Verstappen heals rift with Netflix over Drive to Survive


Max Verstappen says that he hopes his dispute with Netflix over the popular behind the scenes Drive to Survive documentary series is now a closed matter.

The reigning world champion revealed at the end of 2021 that he had declined to be directly involved in last year's coverage, and would not be sitting down for any interviews with the film makers.

It was a blow for the series which relies on its exclusive access to the teams and drivers throughout the course of the season, to bring subscribers the untold inside story of the championship battle.

Verstappen withdrew his cooperation after accusing the show of faking storylines and being 'over the top' in how it depicted clashes between drivers, but subsequently relented and agreed to a limited interview for the new run of episodes.

Speaking at least week's Red Bull team launch in New York City, Verstappen was in a more conciliatory mood as he explained what had happened.

He said that he “always wanted to be part” of the show but that “it needs to be realistic”, and that he'd wanted to make sure the production team appreciated his point of view.

(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing; Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team; and Lance Stroll (CDN) Aston Martin F1 Team, in the FIA Press Conference.10.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Preparation Day.

"I'm positive of course, because I know it's also very important for F1," he said. "I know that it's important to Formula 1 as well for growing the sport in general.

“I know that especially being a world champion, that you have to be part of something like that.

“That's why we had to talk about it first, and they understood my side of it,” Verstappen commented. “Of course, I understand when you create a show, there needs to be drama, it needs to be exciting.

"But I'm a guy who finds it's also very important that you're portrayed well, and that they do not start to copy comments on the different kinds of footage when it didn't happen like that.

Mercedes AMG F1 being filmed by the Netflix production

“I had to explain it to them that that was my view, otherwise I didn't want to be part of it," he insisted. "But yes, they understood. Let's see once it comes out what they made of it.

“I think I gave them like 30 minutes or one hour of an interview, and I hope of course they're going to use it well," he said. “I don't know when I'm going to watch it, but I hope they're happy."

Season 5 of Drive to Survive will be streamed on Netflix from February 24.

Trailers for the new series have highlighted Verstappen's return in front of the camera with a clip in which he's asked "“How do you feel about being in the chair?”, to which he replies succinctly: "All right."

Verstappen's team Red Bull also had a falling out with a different media outlet, when it withdrew co-operation with Sky Sports F1 during last year's Mexican GP over comments made by pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz and what the team saw as 'constant' disrespect.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. 29.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Qualifying Day.

"There needs to be balance in commentary," team principal Christian Horner said at the time. "Some of the commentary is excellent, but some of the pieces, there's too much sensationalisation being done. We stand together as a team."

Despite the brief boycott, it emerged that Horner appeared on the broadcaster's F1 weekend coverage more than twice as much as his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff.

In a comparison of non-driver personnel to be interviewed, Horner accounted for 33.7 per cent of the time to Wolff's 18.2 per cent. That included paddock interviews, Sky Pad analyses and feature-length segments.

McLaren also featured regularly. Both Andreas Seidl and Zak Brown were among the top ten, while Ferrari’s former team principal Mattia Binotto was on screen for 7.7 per cent of the time.

As for drivers, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc came out top with 13.7 per cent of air time, with his pole winning laps a big draw. Lewis Hamilton narrowly pipped Verstappen to second with 11.6 per cent of the coverage of drivers.

George Russell was just behind them with 10 per cent, and fellow Brit Lando Norris received 9.4 per cent of screen time. But Williams driver Nicholas Latifi did not feature in a single pre-session interview.

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