Formula 1 decision pays off, proves Max Verstappen was right

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Formula 1 (Photo by ANP via Getty Images) /

Max Verstappen’s decision to boycott Drive to Survive ultimately led a discussion that needed to be had between Formula 1 and Netflix, and he has since returned.

Netflix released the fifth season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Friday, February 24, a date that happened to coincide with Formula 1 preseason testing at Bahrain International Circuit.

The documentary series, which debuted back in March 2019, continues to play an important role in elevating the popularity of Formula 1. However, there have long been criticism and concerns about Netflix “overdoing it” to the point where it almost comes off as fake, and nobody was more vocal about that than two-time world champion Max Verstappen.

In fact, the 25-year-old had previously boycotted the Drive to Survive production team due to how they portrayed him in the series, effectively preventing them from interviewing him as part of the show.

As expected, Verstappen was criticized over his decision, and while much of the vitriol was probably generated by the media, there were also many fans who accused him of not caring enough about the fanbase and being unwilling to prioritize what the fans want over his personal opinions.

But Max Verstappen did not back down, and that now appears to have been for the best, not just for him but for Formula 1 and its fanbase.

Verstappen was certainly not the only individual who felt this way about Drive to Survive, and there had been growing concerns over the overdramatization of the series, leading some to believe that other drivers could even opt to join Verstappen and not take part moving forward.

With this in mind early last year, Formula 1 discussed plans to address their concerns with Netflix to ensure that future Drive to Survive seasons didn’t magnify this problem.

Ironically, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali stated that “a driver who refuses to participate because he feels he is not being represented in the right way is not being constructive”, a statement clearly aimed at Verstappen. He added that a dialogue was needed to understand the issue more.

But what became more and more obvious as time went on was the fact that, after four seasons, the issue was finally being addressed and a dialogue was finally being had, thus indicating that Verstappen’s boycott indeed proved to be just that: constructive.

Domenicali even admitted that there was potential for a bigger issue, stating that Formula 1 would aim to ensure that the story “does not move away from reality”, indicating that such a story “no longer fits” what the sport is about.

Given the discussions that were had as a result of this being brought up, an even more constructive dialogue did end up taking place, one which appears to have paid off.

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Verstappen returned for the fifth season of Drive to Survive, and at least for the time being, nobody has plans to boycott future seasons of the show.