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Drive To Survive Season 6 Review: Netflix's 2023 F1 retrospective won't change opinions

As has become tradition, Netflix is back with a new season of Drive to Survive to coincide with winter testing for the new Formula 1 season.

Start action, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23 leads

Photo by: Erik Junius

Providing behind-the-scenes access to one of the world's most restricted championships has done wonders for F1's booming popularity and expanded demographic, so the docuseries made by Box to Box Films has stuck to its guns for season six, half of which we have had early access to.

Once again all 10 episodes are each built around one of the main narrative strands from the 2023 season. With Max Verstappen's Red Bull winning all but one race, the makers have had to seek their thrills elsewhere and lean heavier on the off-track drama.

And maybe that's just as well, because Drive to Survive remains somewhat jarring when it comes to on-track storytelling. It lapses into an old vice of overlaying out of context soundbites and pit wall reactions onto action footage, which had seemed less prevalent in season five.

Making it sound like race engineers get into their driver's ear on the frantic run down to Turn 1 at the start is a little nonsensical, but it is where die-hard F1 fans just need to take a deep breath and remember who this show is aimed at first and foremost.

Instead, where DTS really shines for seasoned motorsports devotees - which you presumably are if you are reading this - is showing us fresh fly-on-the-wall footage, and season six is no different.

Ousted Haas team boss Guenther Steiner remains a star of the show in DTS season six

Ousted Haas team boss Guenther Steiner remains a star of the show in DTS season six

Photo by: Netflix

The third episode revolving around McLaren particularly stands out with some delicious snark, with Red Bull's Christian Horner eager to twist the knife as Zak Brown's team misfires, adding insult to injury by openly courting Lando Norris.

We get a neat little nugget when McLaren's blue-chip sponsors worriedly ask Brown what is going on, followed by a well-crafted segment of the team's mid-season resurgence as Norris takes second at home at Silverstone. While Brown does all the heavy lifting on camera there's curiously barely a mention of Andrea Stella, the team boss who turned the ship around, but perhaps both like it better that way.

DTS has never shied away from fan service and it continues that trend in season six. Unlikely Netflix star Guenther Steiner is back to his charismatic self as Haas' struggles are well documented. Watching young, female F1 fans fawn over meeting the foul-mouthed Italian at his book signing feels both surreal and meta. Drive to Survive has gone full circle, basking in the man's popularity it single-handedly created.

Given Steiner has since been replaced at Haas, it may have been his last hurrah on the show. But Netflix was handed a boost by its other fan favourite, Daniel Ricciardo, enjoying a year worthy of a Hollywood script.

He first gets an episode alongside struggling Nyck de Vries, and Box to Box Films deserves huge credit for being on the scene at the Australian's Silverstone test that convinced Red Bull to give him a second chance at AlphaTauri in the Dutchman's stead. A series of events and meetings that we get access to in truncated form, including Ricciardo's first reaction to the news he's back in the game.

Daniel Ricciardo's return to F1 is a major storyline of DTS season six

Daniel Ricciardo's return to F1 is a major storyline of DTS season six

Photo by: Netflix

Ricciardo later returns for a second episode around his wrist fracture in Zandvoort, which brings Liam Lawson in the frame as his temporary replacement.

While juggernauts Ferrari and McLaren also play a big part in the second half of the series, which we haven't had access to yet, the award for best drama goes to Alpine's implosion. The long-time rivalry between Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly is the focus of the fifth episode, but its title Civil War would have been much more apt for the events around the departure of Laurent Rossi and Otmar Szafnauer, which spills into a second (yet unseen) Alpine-dominated episode.

Netflix has largely stuck to its tried and tested formula, so if you weren't a fan before, this season won't change your opinion. But if you're just here for the behind-the-scenes popcorn fodder and can look past the odd embellishment, then enjoy the ride.

All 10 episodes of Drive to Survive season six are available on Netflix from Friday 23 February.

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