‘Drive To Survive’ Creator Reveals Toto Wolff Was Embarrassed By His Appearance On Netflix Series

"No, Michael. This isn't right!"

‘Drive To Survive’ Creator Reveals Toto Wolff Was Embarrassed By His Appearance On Netflix Series

Image: Steve Etherington

Paul Martin, the mastermind behind the hugely successful docuseries Formula 1: Drive to Survive, has confessed that Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff was left embarrassed by some of his appearances on the fourth season of the hit Netflix show and refused to give as much access in future episodes.

As the immensely popular sports documentary series Formula 1: Drive to Survive returns to our screens for its sixth season, the series has become something of a cultural phenomenon, captivating audiences with its unparalleled access to the high-stakes world of Formula 1 racing.

At the inaugural SXSW expo held in Sydney in October 2023, Paul Martin took centre stage to share insights into the show’s journey and its profound influence on the global landscape of the sport.

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When Martin and Box To Box Films set out to make the first season, it was originally pitched as an exclusive look into the Red Bull team, with Christian Horner and Daniel Ricciardo expected to star. But it was only after Liberty Media secured the ownership of Formula 1 that the format opened up to every team on the grid.

Of course, when making a docuseries like Drive to Survive, access to the sport’s top stars is never guaranteed.

“Mercedes and Ferrari weren’t in season one, then Toto [Wolff] came into [season] two,” Martin revealed. “And then Toto was really at the forefront of the year that Max and Lewis, you know, went head to head and went on to Abu Dhabi.”

“I think that when Toto went back and watched that series, I think he felt a little bit embarrassed about some of it because he was so emotional about it. And he felt like he didn’t want to particularly go there again [in season five]. So he, you know, didn’t take a year off, but didn’t quite give us as much as the next year; he was very conscious of what he had done.”

Image: Netflix

The final episode of season four was arguably one of the show’s most memorable across the six seasons, chronicling the unbelievable events that saw Max Verstappen win his first-ever WDC title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver crossed the finish line after an unfortunately timed safety car allowed Verstappen to make up considerable gains on his perennial rival Lewis Hamilton in the final laps of the race, robbing Hamilton of a record-breaking eighth World Drivers’ Championship title in controversial circumstances.

Toto Wolff couldn’t believe what he had witnessed, admitting he didn’t even see Verstappen crossing the line. The Mercedes boss was immediately on the phone to Michael Masi at Race Control.

In the final moments of the season, Wolff openly challenged the decision to let Verstappen win in this way but suggested it was just the motivation the team needed to go again the following season.