Netflix has a star in Guenther Steiner, the so-called “leading man” in its docuseries “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” which just released its fifth season.
The big picture: The popular series follows the lives of Formula 1 drivers and team leaders on and off the track.
- The new season begins with Steiner, Haas principal and Lake Norman resident, along for a ride with then-Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto through the Dolomite Mountains in Italy.
“He is a striking fellow,” Binotto says of Steiner in a confessional. “I keep telling him, ‘You’re the protagonist of the Netflix show now, the leading man.'”
Why it matters: The Charlotte-area local brings wit and comedic relief throughout the season’s 10 episodes, as he has in past seasons, solidifying his place as fan favorite.
Steiner and Haas are easy to root for. On the track, the sport’s only American team is an underdog. Off the track, the drivers and Steiner let viewers into their lives.
In episode four, the Netflix crew follows Steiner to his home on the shores of Lake Norman.
- “North Carolina USA” appears on the screen over drone footage of pristine waterfront mansions. A few seconds later, Steiner is whizzing past the camera on a jet ski with his daughter holding onto his sides.
Zoom in: After a brutal 2021 season during which the team scored no points, Haas was back in contention for the 2022 season. It still only placed eighth out of 10 teams, but it scored 37 points.
“We cannot be too greedy, you know?” Steiner tells a reporter in episode four, filmed March 2022. “Last year for two points, I would have f–ked the whole paddock.” (F1’s paddock is where the teams prep cars and work during races.)
- The reporter jumps in: “I’m sure America doesn’t mind, but I’ll apologize for the language.”
Guenther looks back to a team member and furls his eyebrows. “What language did I use?”
- He turns back to the reporter and asks again.
- “What did you say you would do to the whole paddock?” the reporter asks back.
- Realization sets in. Guenther’s eyes widen, he cracks a smile. “Hug them!”
The soundbite originally made its rounds in headlines and on social media last year, but “Drive to Survive” gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look.
The bottom line: When I interviewed Steiner last year, he was encouraged by the recent attention on Haas and Formula 1 from new fans in the U.S. thanks to the show and more stateside races in Miami, Las Vegas and Austin.
“It’s fantastic to see,” Steiner said then. “Being an American team, it’s even more exciting for us.”
Tune in: A new racing season of F1 starts early March with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 5.