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Grand Prix Driver:
A Good Way To Get Excited For The F1 Season

"It takes years to build an F1 team but you can kill it in six months."
- Eric  Boullier

"Grand Prix Driver" is a four episode documentary that takes you through the inner-workings of the McLaren F1 team. It centers around the preparations during the "off-season" of 2017. This was the year that their engine partner Honda had promised a race and championship winning engine, so that the team were going to be fighting alongside Ferrari and Mercedes.

The 2017 season is over by the time this documentary sees the light of the day. People who follow the sport know that the season did not go well. Instead McLaren suffered 10 DNFs due to poor Honda reliability and finished in second to last place in the constructor's championship.

Grand Prix Driver does not fuss about when touches on the topic. Right at the beginning the tone is set: This is not going to be a story of glory and success. Instead it is going to be one that shows the defeat without seeing through rose-tinted spectacles.

Furthermore, this documentary does not set the focus on their star drivers. Instead the focus lies on the crew. We are shown how the chassis and livery are created, the pit-crew training through the winter, and we get shown how important marketing has become for McLaren. This is a welcome change, since those aspects are rarely seen, or discussed in main-stream media.

This is balanced by showing the preparations Stoffel Vandoorne (commonly known as "The Stoff" or "Stoffel Waffel") has to go through during the winter break. We are not only told about the vigorous fitness routine he has to abide, we are also shown what heights of physical strength they have to endure.



Between the drivers Alonso and Vandoorne, the documentary focuses more on Stoffel: 2017 was his rookie year, and working with a big team was new to him. In all honesty, this was a refreshing change since the spot-light usually shines above Alonso's head. This time the double world-champion is kept in the background.

"Grand Prix Driver" could have easily been used to show McLaren as a victim of the Honda relationship. Instead, it coldly depicts the facts without trying twist something into a strange and positive way.

This also means, that the documentary does not suit everyone. Obviously, it is targeted at motorsport fans. Even then I fear that the casual viewer would find this documentary a bit slow. While it is interesting and shows a lot insight, it fails to be thrilling or exciting. This is not fully helped by the anti-climax that McLaren was going to have another shit season.

Despite the negative vibes, there is still humour in the McLaren family. My personal highlight was the discussion of livery of other teams and Ferrari is dismissed by stating that their livery "won't be a surprise" to which Vandoorne adds "It's ... red."

"Grand Prix Driver" remains a must see for McLaren fans. It shows great insight behind the scenes of the team and what a losing streak can do to both the team and drivers. If you're looking for something to keep you entertained and excited for the 2018 season then "Grand Prix Driver" is your best place to start!

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