REVIEW – Formula 2: Chasing The Dream Documentary

by Aaron Gillard

Ever since Liberty Media fully took over Formula 1 in 2017, they’ve aimed to push the sport into new platforms and streams of Media whatever possible. The Netflix Series ‘Formula 1: Drive To Survive’ received very positive reviews and ignited a new interest in F1, acting as a new access on attracting more viewers and spectators into the sport.

Whilst the success of its documentary sparked a new series, set for release in March 2020, Formula 1 released a brand-new documentary series based on its support series, FIA Formula 2 – one of the most competitive spec-series in the world. ‘F2: Chasing The Dream’ presents a new documentary and a further scope into a series that gets coverage very rare to F1.

Chasing The Dream
Credit: FIA Formula 2

Whilst F2 maybe a support series to F1, most fans will recognise the platform being the proving ground for the likes of Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Lando Norris, and Alexander Albon. The success of the 2018 season, with the promotion of Russell, Norris, and Albon, launched a look into the drivers for the 2019 season of F2.

The new series gives a limelight into the drivers of F2 with five 25 minute estimate episodes on F1’s streaming service, F1TV. Each episode covers a section of the 12-round championship in 2019, with different themes and moments as each episode progressed. Some drivers get a further in-depth look into their racing careers, their season and into their lives outside of the race track compare to others, but each exploration gives viewers a chance to learn something from each driver, and grow support for them whether it’s for the documentary, or for future F2 races.

Each time we focus on a couple of drivers, the documentary presents the view of its past, their goals, achievements and what they aim to reach in the near future. Whether its Nyck de Vries hoping to break into F1 after missing out in 2018, Guanyu Zhou with the challenges of living in England, or Jack Aitken hoping to relish more chances with Renault after a challenging rookie season.

All drivers are chasing the same goal: to race in F1. But all have come from different paths and backgrounds. The series does a great job of showcasing each driver their different backgrounds, goals, etc. Whether it’s Mick Schumacher stepping into the F2 ring, with the weight and pressure being the son of a seven-time F1 champion or Nobuharu Matsushita who returns to F2, giving a second chance to try and become Japan’s first F1 driver since 2014.

The opening three episodes look into the season as it unfolds, occasionally focusing on one driver before each race occurs. Clips of the actual racing itself are very brief, lasting around a minute or two, showcasing some of the best action from this year. The documentary delivers in introducing new faces that viewers both fans of F2 or not are familiar with. Whether it is team principals of a certain team, trainers, engineers or communication officers, the documentary introduces them well and gives more evidence and backing to the drivers who are focused in the episode.

After the first three episodes, the documentary is in good spirits and the characters brought up upon the end of Episode 3 have been featured in-depth and clear for the audience to follow. Everything is poised for the second half of the season, but that’s where the documentary delivers its strongest, most powerful and unfortunately, tragic setting.

Those who followed F2 this year will know what is to come when they reach Episode 4, probably before the documentary is even released. Those who don’t, Episode 4 is the episode that will stick with the viewer long after the episode has finished.

Remembering Anthoine

IMG_0153
Credit: FIA Formula 2

The episode starts off with a beautiful scenery setting at Spa-Francorchamps, peaceful music and nature with the audio in the background of Anthoine Hubert prior to the feature race, talking about the circuit and the atmosphere. Hubert then cracks a smile to the camera lens.

The picture then fades to black, before we see F2’s CEO Bruno Michel, asked if Spa was his toughest weekend.

Episode 4 solely focuses on Hubert, the tributes from his colleagues and friends, and the events that unravelled on that day on the 31st August 2019. The episode progresses with the aftermath of Spa, the Monza round that followed a week later and tribute from his GP3 Series success in 2018 and his wins in 2019.

Alain Prost makes an appearance, being Hubert’s childhood hero and the mentor within the Renault Academy talking about the talent and the kindness he delivered to people. This was later backed up with clips of both of Hubert’s BWT Arden team-mate Tatiana Calderon and Team Principal Kenny Kirwan.

Kirwan discusses how he was unlike any other driver and how he would ask for small things for other people like pushbikes for himself and Tatiana, better food for the mechanics etc. Further insight was presented by F2’s Director of Communications Alexa Quinin, F2 CEO Michel and F2 commentator Alex Jacques.

The accident is not shown during the programme, only shots of the race start and the start of Lap 2 at Eau Rouge before the events unfolded. But the weight of the accident is felt when a clip of Esteban Ocon and Martin Brundle looking on in shock as the crash happened on TV. Lewis Hamilton’s reaction whilst in the press pen after Qualifying was shown as well.

Hearing the likes of Kenny gathering all of the Arden team to break the sad news, Calderon breaking down in tears and Anthoine’s brother and Mother during the minute silent was tough to watch.

But during the piece around the Spa event, Jacques who was commentating that day delivers a strong, deep and sad reminder of the risks that Motorsport presents itself.

“Most people have only known motorsport in its hyper-safe and almost logic-defying levels of safety that we have reached.

FIA Formula 2
Credit: FIA Formula 2/LAT Images

“So to be invaded by an accident that violent, being broadcast live on TV, there’s no escaping it. One driver seriously injured. One driver killed.

“That is not usual. It once was usual. But it is not usual anymore.”

Correa, who was involved in the accident with Hubert, was also featured in an interview months after the accident and in the midst of his recovery from the accident. He also makes an appearance in the last episode of the documentary in his home in Miami.

His strength through what he has been through and his recovery is inspirational and hopes that one day, he will make a return to racing.

The most distressing and somewhat powerful show of togetherness within F2 was that the following week, they would race again at Monza. But Alexa Quinin in her piece mentions about how her office is always open for the drivers if they needed comfort, a shoulder to cry on. In which the drivers replied with the same offer to the Communication team, showing the strong family F2 bond the series has with each other.

FIA Formula 2
Credit: FIA Formula 2/LAT Images

The episode as a whole is emotional, but an inspirational documented tribute to a driver who did more than just drive a race car, Hubert was a gentleman who gave his best for the series and his team, becoming ‘one of the guys’ in the words of Kirwan.

This is where the documentary brings in more than just Motorsport, serving as a reminder and a showing that it is more than just racing cars at high speed. It serves as a reminder of the dangers it can present, the human side of the sport, a sign of unity between series, teams and drivers in their darkest hour.

Overall Verdict

FIA Formula 2
Credit: FIA Formula 2/LAT Images

F2: Chasing The Dream is a well-crafted, documented and emotional roller-coaster of the 2019 Formula 2 Season. Whilst it may not get the accolades or viewership compare to F1’s Drive To Survive, it works well in a small series among-st F1’s supporting cast. It showcases the next generation of talent and future stars for the road to F1, as well as paying a tribute to a star who’ll never be forgotten.

It is worth a watch if you’re a dedicated F2 fan or want to explore more of the series. Whilst it doesn’t match the quality or widespread audience compare to F1’s Drive To Survive, it is understandable being based on a feeder series. It delivers well in its characters, and in its darkest moments when the sport unites together in memory of a fellow driver.

F2: Chasing The Dream is available to watch on F1TV now.

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