Fans and F1 aficionados have accused F1 chiefs of attempting to “manufacture drama” to increase viewership numbers for Netflix’s popular show Drive to Survive.
The bosses at Mercedes are reportedly fuming over the same and have hired a top sports lawyer following Max Verstappen’s controversial title win at the dramatic 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi where he defeated Lewis Hamilton.
With more than 7.4 million viewers watching the race from the UK alone, the nail-biting finish saw the race director Michael Masi let lapped cars overtake Hamilton that led to the last lap showdown with his title opponent.
Although the win led to brilliant photos and a riveting narrative, the Mercedes bosses were furious at Masi for not conducting the race properly and not following rules related to safety cars. They even protested against the unfair proceedings since the governing body for F1, FIA, said that the deployment of the safety car at the race was at Masi’s disposal given he was the director.
This has infuriated pundits who believe that this was Masi’s deliberate attempt at dramatizing the situation and leading to a gripping season finale that would be in perfect sync with Netflix’s need for drama and adrenaline.
They believe that Masi wanted to create a “juicy storyline” for the show that will lead to an increase in the viewership for a series that already has a huge fanbase.
Jordan Bianchi, from The Athletic, criticised Masi heavily for refusing to talk to the media and providing a paltry answer to the Mercedes-Benz principal Toto Woldd, saying “Masi’s flimsy justification to (Toto) Wolff along with his refusal to speak to the media afterwards only further undermines any confidence that Masi is capable of effectively officiating a race.”
Hong Kong-based journalist Paul Ryding took to Twitter to express the “irony” of the situation wherein F1 has angered its fanbase with “the contrived ending” that “will have turned a lot of people off the sport.”
While fans were making jokes and memes about the same on Twitter to diffuse the situation and conceal their disappointment, Netflix jumped into the bandwagon by posting on Twitter, saying, “Someone should make a documentary about this.”
Directed by James Gay-Rees, the acclaimed British filmmaker behind Senna, the show launched its first season in 2019, following the 2018 F1 season.