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What Toto Wolff really thinks of 'scary' Netflix and Drive To Survive

Series four of Netflix's hit show Drive To Survive will air this week (11 March) as fans wait to see how the controversy of Silverstone, Monza, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi will be covered.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has described the level of access Netflix are granted by Formula 1 to shoot TV series Drive To Survive as "scary", saying "they put scenes together that didn't happen". The show has become a hit on the streaming platform and for the sport, introducing F1 to a fresher, younger and more international audience. It has performed especially when in the United States, which will this season stage an extra Grand Prix (Miami) as interest in the sport skyrockets. For the inadvertent stars of the show, Wolff included, Drive To Survive has put them before the camera in a way they could have never imagined. And this week its entire fourth series will go live (11 March) as the sport prepares to go racing again in Bahrain (20 March).

Wolff: Netflix create a narrative

"It's scary how much we let them in," said Wolff, speaking to Bloomberg . "You hate to see yourself in there." The docu-series has been criticised in the past for creating false drama, with World Champion Max Verstappen telling the Associated Press that the filmmakers "would fake a lot of stuff". Wolff says he has accepted that the show has done more good than bad for Formula 1, creating a path for new fans to introduce themselves to the sport's biggest stars. "They create a spin to the narrative. They put scenes together that didn't happen," he said. "I guess you'd say as an insider: 'Well, that's different than how it was'. But we're creating entertainment, and that is a new dimension of entertainment. "Bernie Ecclestone would say: 'I'm not interested in the 15-35 [year-olds] because they are not buying Rolexes from my sponsor!' But obviously that has changed because, with social media, this is the demographic that's driving the audiences, that's driving the reach, and they are the future decision-makers."

Netflix has helped F1 break the US

"Formula 1, from our perspective, always was a global sport – big in Europe, big in South America, big in Asia and in the Middle East," explained Wolff. "In a way, we never accessed or excited the American audiences. My theory, back in the day, was that it takes a long time for a sports league to establish itself in a country." He continued: "Formula 1 is a niche sport. It's a high-tech, high-income demographic, high-academic education. I thought it must be easier to tap the audiences in the big cities, like New York, but we really never got there. "Then Liberty took over, didn't move the needle really, and then Netflix came, Covid came and people started to binge-watch. And then suddenly we have this huge momentum now in the U.S. that nobody had expected."

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