Everything I learned about Formula 1 is thanks to Netflix

Everything I learned about Formula 1 is thanks to Netflix

By Kirk Kern

With Formula 1 coming to Las Vegas this year, I decided to check out what all the fuss is about. And to do so, I did my research by watching “Drive to Survive” on Netflix.

Ok, I’m hooked.

First off, I’m not going to claim to be some kind of Formula 1 expert. It seems a lot of the journalism around the sport is geared toward the technical aspects of the cars.


Give me the drama. The infighting. The wisecracks from Daniel Ricciardo. Give me “Formula 1: Drive to Survive.”

For those who haven’t seen it, and I recommend you do even if you don’t care about the sport, it chronicles the last five seasons of Formula 1 racing.

I could go into each season and talk about a lot of the principals who have become the breakout stars of the show. But I’d rather leave that to you to watch it yourself.

I’m instead I’m going to talk about what I expect as a first-time fan of Formula 1 as its season kicks off this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

As a sports fan, you have to pick a favorite team. In Formula 1, there are 10 teams that have two drivers each. But it’s kind of weird in that there is definitely a caste system where there’s a group of teams fighting for first place, and then there’s a separate group dueling it out for fourth place.

In American sports, it’s hard to fathom setting a goal at the beginning of the season for fourth place, but that’s where we’re at in Formula 1. Also, winning a race is a big deal, but just as big is getting on the podium by finishing first, second or third.

Watch enough Drive to Survive and you’d think the best thing about getting on a podium is spraying champagne all over the place.

I’m picking two different teams, one from the top group and one from the mid-table group.

In the top group, I’m going to follow Ferrari. Why? I like the underdog. For the uniformed, you might think Ferrari is the top dog in Formula 1, but that’s really not the case right now. Red Bull won the title last year and Mercedes had it for eight years prior.

In fact, Ferrari hasn’t won a constructor’s title since 2008. Their last driver to win the crown was Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. Sorry, I don’t know how to type umlauts to correctly spell Raikkonen.

So, yes, Ferrari is a bit of an underdog. Plus, their two drivers — Charles LeClerc and Carlos Sainz — seem pretty cool.

The easy choice would have been to pick Red Bull as my team. But they seem pretty arrogant and picking them would have been kind of like becoming a Pittsburgh Steelers fan in the 1970s.

So, Ferrari it is.

But because of how the season plays out, I feel I can also take a mid-level team from the teams vying for fourth place. In this regard, I’m thinking McLaren. First off, an orange colored car seems pretty cool to me.

Plus they also have a driver named Lando Norris, who I’m assuming was named after Lando Calrissian from Star Wars fame. Even if he wasn’t, I’m going with that.

Norris could be the best driver not driving one of the top six cars on the circuit (Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes). In my mind, that still makes him kind of an underdog.

So, I’m starting my journey as a new Formula 1 fan by getting up early for the Bahrain Grand Prix. It airs live on ESPN beginning at 7 a.m. Sunday.

I don’t really have any Ferrari or McLaren gear right now, maybe down the road.