Drive to Survive did wonders for Formula 1. The hit Netflix series has drawn fans to the sport through its (sometimes manufactured) drama and beautiful cinematography. What you likely don’t know is that Formula E has its version, albeit with shorter episodes and massively condensed storylines. Even still, Formula E Unplugged is a great primer for the new season whether you’ll be watching the EV racing series for the first time or you’re a veteran fan.
Season two of Unplugged, which chronicles 2022’s Season 8 of Formula E, hit some broadcasters just before Christmas and all six episodes have made the rounds a few times here in the US already (CBS Sports Network). That’s a big change from season one’s 15 episodes which weren’t widely distributed and now live on the Formula E YouTube channel. The other difference with this new season is the episodes are 30 minutes with commercials, slightly longer than the 10- to 15-minute entries in the previous installment. But even with some added time, many of the narratives are condensed to the point they’re hard to follow at times.
Simon Galloway/LAT Images
Episode one covers Mercedes-EQ in its final season (the team was purchased by McLaren). Eventual series winner Stoffel Vandorne has to contend with the fact his teammate is the defending champion. The second episode offers a biographical look at Jaguar TCS’ Mitch Evans, including interviews with his family, his disappointing end to Season 7 and the title push in Season 8 that goes down to the very end.
In episode three, Unplugged covers two teams: TAG Heuer Porsche and ROKiT Venturi Racing. While one banked an early 1-2 finish in Season 8, the other had to contend with drama during its home race. This is the first taste of anything close to Drive to Surive drama. The fourth episode is all about the rookies as Dan Ticktum tries to put his past behind him, Antonio Giovinazzi looks to move on from F1 and American Oliver Askew tries his hand at a global series with the aid of British teammate Jake Dennis.
“Formula E Unplugged presents a realistic picture of life inside the paddock and helps fans to understand more about what makes us tick and where we are coming from,” said Ticktum, who drives for NIO 333 Racing. “I can be pretty fiery, but I think the ‘behind the scenes’ nature of Unplugged will show that sometimes there is a lot more to what drivers are going through than can be seen during races or on social media.”
Sam Bloxham/LAT Images
More drama ensues in episode five when the series covers DS Techeetah, a team with two former Formula E champions in its garage. Things get heated on multiple occasions when both Jean-Éric Vergne and António Félix Da Costa have an equal desire to win. The final installment offers a look at the lead up to the final two rounds in South Korea. A four-way fight for the title, driver changes and a brief discussion of the Gen3 car round out the sixth episode.
There’s plenty to glean despite the compressed format. Even I learned new things as someone who follows the sport. However, Unplugged really focuses on the top four teams in the championship standings, with the exception of Porsche who looked strong at the outset and the episode about rookies. It would’ve been great to include Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns, who finished level on points in the driver’s standings with Di Grassi and Dennis. I can appreciate that Formula E likely has a limited budget for the show, which is why we only get a half dozen episodes, but it would’ve been nice to get to know the likes of Mahindra and Nissan eDAMS along the way (the latter is covered in S1). And there could’ve been an entire episode dedicated to the Gen3 car, especially when you consider how much more advanced it is (or eventually will be) over the Gen2 racer.
In the US, Formula E races are broadcast on CBS Sports Network and usually on a tape delay a few hours after the event. For example, the first race in Mexico City this weekend won’t air until 11:30PM ET Saturday night (race is at 2PM ET). Both practice sessions will stream on the Formula E YouTube channel (5:25PM ET Friday, 8:25AM ET Saturday). Qualifying, which is completed in a knockout-style format, is only viewable on CBSSports.com. If you’re outside of the States, select your country here for the broadcast info.
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