The cinematic tapestry of Formula 1: Drive to Survive is a thrilling experience in itself, capturing the roar of engines and the blur of colors that come with high-speed racing. Beyond the spectacle lies a series of deeper narratives that delves into individual drivers and teams, with Canadian Nicholas Latifi featuring among them.
Latifi raced for the storied Williams Racing team for three seasons, making his debut in the Austrian Grand Prix of 2020 before bowing out of the sport (for now) at the end of 2022. Williams have struggled at the back of the grid for some time, and Latifi’s rookie season proved particularly challenging as the team failed to score a single point. 2021, however, saw a marked improvement as Latifi helped them leapfrog both Haas and Alfa Romeo to finish 8th in the constructors’ standings with 23 points.
Netflix’s exciting docuseries Formula 1: Drive to Survive covers all the angles that motorsport fans have previously been unable to see with each episode tending to focus on ongoing stories, rivalries and controversies – rather than telling the tale of the season chronologically.
Exploring Nicholas Latifi in the series
The series provides a unique perspective on the pinnacle of motorsport, shining a light on some of the relationships and dynamics between drivers and their teams behind the scenes as well as the cutthroat nature of the business. It has undoubtedly brought in a wave of new fans to the sport, who have been drawn in by the personalities as much as the racing.
With points-scoring opportunities few and far between, it is perhaps unsurprising that Latifi and Williams haven’t featured too often throughout the five series that have aired to date. In season 4, however, the cameras are fully focused on them for episode 6 “A Point to Prove”. That weekend in Hungary, not only did they manage to avoid the “Netflix curse”, they enjoyed their best weekend of the season – Latifi coming home in 7th, with teammate George Russell in 8th. The episode perfectly captures the tension throughout in the garage and the outburst of emotion from drivers and team personnel following the checkered flag as all their hard work and resilience is finally rewarded.
The double points finish helped Williams achieve the aforementioned 8th-place finish in the constructors’ championship, ending a run of several years at rock bottom. Team boss Jost Capito’s ambition to reduce the length of the “walk of shame” to the very end of the paddock each race weekend is also highlighted in the episode – in Formula 1, the teams are lined up according to the order of last year’s championship. Thanks to Latifi’s strong showing that weekend, Williams found themselves in a much better place for 2022.
The episode couldn’t be more of a contrast from when the series last shone the spotlight on the team in season 2, as it was enduring perhaps its darkest days in the sport – from failing to make it to pre-season testing on time to being way off the pace during the 2019 season.
Latifi’s achievements in Formula 1
While Latifi’s biggest impact in F1 is difficult to measure in terms of points scored, the turnaround in Williams’ fortunes certainly began during his three years alongside George Russell – LeoVegas have summed up some of his achievements in their tribute to the Canadian.
Russell has since moved on to partner seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, but Williams is certainly looking more competitive, having had those two tirelessly drive the development of the cars in recent seasons and fostering a culture of excellence. Russell, who many expect to become a world champion himself one day, may have been a tough teammate to stack up against but on a few occasions, besides the Hungarian Grand Prix of 2021, Latifi did manage to out-qualify or out-race the Brit.
Latifi’s presence on the grid will have also gone a long way towards retaining Canadian interest in the sport during the Montréal Grand Prix’s two-year absence from the F1 calendar due to Covid-19. In actual fact, at the time of writing, the F1 circus came to town this past weekend – with Williams scoring their best finish of the 2023 season to date in 7th. Another visible sign of the progress Latifi helped to push.
Artistic aspects of the series
Formula 1: Drive to Survive is more than a tale of Nicholas Latifi’s voyage in the racing world. It’s an extraordinary depiction of a riveting sport that encompasses speed, strategy and human emotions laid bare. The cinematography expertly captures the flavor of the racetrack — from the colorful blaze of lights to the pulsating orchestra that emanates from revving engines.
It seamlessly weaves together various aspects of an F1 driver’s life into a captivating narrative with an attention to detail to impress hardcore fans of the sport and to intrigue total newcomers.