Max Verstappen hits out at Drive to Survive over Lando Norris portrayal

Max Verstappen has criticised Drive to Survive over Netflix’s portrayal of McLaren driver Lando Norris.

The series has proved very successful since its debut season in 2019. Drive to Survive has elevated Formula 1’s popularity among the younger generations and has been a hit in the United States.

Formula 1’s gamble of a Netflix series has paid off. ESPN said that their viewing figures have increased by 39% from 2019. The TV network averaged 934,000 US viewers per race (as per SportsPro Media) – no doubt boosted by the success of Drive to Survive (DTS).

On a global scale, F1 has enjoyed a 13% increase in its viewership, getting an audience of 70.3 million per Grand Prix.

Despite all its positive influence in marketing, the Netflix doc has critics. Traditionalist fans say that DTS is overdramatised and generates fake rivalries. In addition, some teams and drivers are not entirely on board with the show. The most notable of those is current world champion Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen not on Drive to Survive

The Dutchman did not take part in the documentary for the 2021 season. At the start of the 2022 season, Verstappen also confirmed that he will not be on Drive to Survive again.

Back in October, he gave his reasoning behind his absence.

“The problem is they will always position you in a way they want, so whatever you say, they will try to make you look reckless, or whatever fits the story of the series,” he said.

“They faked a few rivalries which don’t really exist. So, I decided to not be a part of it and did not give any more interviews after that, because then there is nothing you can show.”

Max Verstappen further bemoaned the documentary’s dramatic angle after watching part of the new season four of Drive to Survive.

Verstappen’s criticism

The reigning champion critiqued Netflix’s portrayal of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo in the series. The McLaren teammates, although friends off-track, were painted as having a fierce rivalry with one another.

Read: Lando Norris’s honest post-Bahrain comments will worry fans

When asked about DTS, the Red Bull driver first reiterated his disliking of the show (quotes via Autosport).

“It’s just not my thing,” he started. “And then, of course they try to pick moments – throughout the whole season – and fabricate it in a way.

“What I didn’t like, and it’s not even about me, it was about Lando [Norris] and Daniel [Ricciardo], which I think are two great guys.”

Verstappen didn’t appreciate Netflix’s presentation of the pair. “They’re really nice, first of all. And it made it look like Lando was a bit of a d**k, which he isn’t at all.

“I know Lando, and I think many people know Lando as a funny guy, great guy – he has a great character. And actually, when you look at that episode, you think ‘who is this guy, what the hell is going on?’”

Surprise soundbites

This isn’t the only part of the show that irked Verstappen. He claimed that Drive to Survive used audio from previous years in their latest series.

“I watched a few episodes of the last one, and I was surprised. I suddenly found myself talking in it. It’s probably stuff from like 2018 or something they picked up and used again – about fighting and what I like to do.

“But that already is not, of course, correct,” continued Verstappen. “I could hear that my voice was a bit different.”

Verstappen and others’ frustrations on the dramatisation may come to an end. F1 boss Stefano Domenicali will reportedly speak to Netflix over the documentary’s ‘fake drama’. Domenicali has said that “it is necessary that the story does not move away from reality, otherwise it no longer fits.”

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