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Schumacher: Is This the Best F1 Documentary on Netflix?


There are many things that Netflix does well; bingeable series such as Stranger Things and Squid Game are at the top of the list.

It does bespoke films and real-life documentaries; in some instances, they’re culturally impactful. The recent Formula 1 documentary, Drive To Survive, is credited by Sports Illustrated as giving motorsport a resurgence in popularity across the US. If you’re one of the people with a newfound admiration for F1 in the US or the wider world, then there’s another Netflix show you must not miss.

Simply titled ‘Schumacher’, it is the story of one of the greatest drivers the industry has ever seen, Michael Schumacher. The German driver was the first to reach seven world titles, an honor he still holds jointly with Lewis Hamilton. In this hit, Netflix show, footage from his family life has been spliced with race action and interviews to bring a touching and compelling biography of his life to the screen. Anyone who has seen the 2010 film Senna will understand exactly what to expect. If you haven’t seen Senna, watch that before moving on to Schumacher.

The film was made with his family’s blessing, including his son and current F1 driver, Mick Schumacher. Mick has yet to win a Grand Prix, and he’s a heavy outsider in the current Ladbrokes betting odds for the 2022 title, driving for Haas. He has a lot to live up to as he begins his F1 career in earnest, with inevitable comparisons between him and his father.

Those who might not be aware of Schumacher should brace themselves for the latter stages of the film; personal tragedy has struck, and we won’t go into spoilers, but it does add a poignant and emotionally challenging twist to the high-octane opening. What’s positive from a viewer’s perspective is the candid honesty displayed throughout by the family, which is insightful and allows us to see the real Michael Schumacher, the man behind the records.

“It’s great,” Mick Schumacher said of the documentary. “I’m very happy and relieved that people really accepted the way we were intending it to, and for people to see the sacrifices he had to take to be able to achieve what he did and that people now realize it hasn’t been given to him and he had to work for it.

“I think that’s very good and basically what the documentary is about – to show what a hard worker he is and what a fighter he is, and I’m very proud we were able to transmit that with this message.”

Whilst the family was open with interviews, there was no peek behind the curtain to see Schumacher’s life now, post-2013. They fiercely guard that aspect of his life and that privacy is not compromised. It’s also interesting to see how the filmmakers deal with some of the more controversial elements of his career; cynical collisions during championship duels with Damon Hill (Japan 94) and Jacques Villeneuve (Japan 97) and the purposeful blocking of Fernando Alonso during qualifying for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix.

However, there’s no denying that whatever flaws there may be in his driving, there are few in his work ethic, his hunger to succeed, or his desire to be one of the greats. All of that, and more, is perfectly encapsulated in this film, and it’s a natural stopping point for anyone currently entranced by Drive to Survive.