Red Bull’s Christian Horner Reveals ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ Was Originally Going To Be Very Different

"Mercedes didn't want to be involved!"

Red Bull’s Christian Horner Reveals ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ Was Originally Going To Be Very Different

Image: Getty

Speaking earlier this season, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner was discussing the origins of the now famed Netflix docuseries, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, and revealed that the original format was going to be very different…until Formula 1 got involved.

We’ve all been left wondering what to do with our time now that the Formula 1 teams and drivers are enjoying a mandated – albeit deserved – summer break; Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has been keeping active, cycling in the Austrian hills with his family, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri suffered a scolding from his mum for refusing to take it easy, and some of us may have even been watching reruns of Netflix’s Drive to Survive just to experience the asphalt.

One thing’s for certain, we’re all ready for the Formula 1 season to resume.

Luckily, the world’s premier motorsport arrives in the Netherlands this week for Max Verstappen’s native circuit, the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort.

Verstappen and Red Bull will undoubtedly have welcomed the break after a blisteringly quick first half of the season, winning 10 out of a possible 12 races in 2023, with teammate Sergio Pérez claiming the other two.

Simply put, Red Bull haven’t stopped. Such is their unparalleled pace this year, that it’s become an inevitability that with each passing race week, Red Bull’s dominance will shine through.

At times it’s felt like Formula 1 had become a one-team show… something Christian Horner revealed almost became a reality.

WATCH Netflix’s Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 5 trailer below.

“Originally that show [Drive to Survive] was just going to be about Red Bull,” the Red Bull boss revealed to the It’s Been A Minute podcast. “It was just going to be a fly on the wall, just about Red Bull. And they went to Formula 1 and they said ‘We’d like to do this show about the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 Team.’ And Formula 1 said ‘We can’t really do that for one Formula 1 team, we need to do it for everybody.'”

Of course, Red Bull could have never predicted the seismic impact Netflix’s docuseries would have on the future of F1, but Formula 1 bosses, Liberty Media, knew how important a first-of-its-kind show would be for the sport.

Drive to Survive introduced one of the world’s most exclusive race to millions of emerging fans around the globe, exposing them to the sheer excitement and unrivalled passion within the sport and engaging a totally new audience.

“Mercedes didn’t want to be involved!”

Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal

Drive to Survive directly contributed to more American investment into the F1, with the 2023 season now boasting three North American tracks, Miami, Austin and now for the first time since 1982, Las Vegas.

Netflix’s Drive to Survive first launched in 2019. Image: Netflix

“They came back to us and said ‘Look, we still want to do it, but everybody, all the teams, are going to be involved.’ And at that point, Ferrari and Mercedes didn’t want to be involved. I think Mercedes thought they could do a better deal on their own. And Ferrari are just naturally cautious.”

The first season debuted on Netflix in 2019, and since then, the ‘Drive to Survive effect’ has grown incrementally, with a record 570,000 viewers watching Season 5 during its first week – a 40% jump from Season 4’s debut.

And that’s certainly translated into real-world viewership: ESPN has revealed that three of Formula 1’s four largest live audiences in history on U.S. television have occurred through the 2023 season. The Miami GP welcomed 1.96 million viewers for its second event this season, with 1.79 million fans tuning in to watch the Monaco Grand Prix and 1.76 million for Canada in June.

“From the get-go, we embraced it and said ‘Ok, come and see who we are.’ It’s been an incredible success,” Horner said proudly.