Disney already has a firm grip on the racing, having won the right to continue showing grand prix action featuring the likes of Max Verstappen through 2025. Now, the media conglomerate is muscling in on Netflix’s bit of Formula 1 turf by green-lighting a docudrama series about the sport and enlisting a name from the Hollywood “A-list.”
Actually, it’s one of several projects that will further boost F1’s profile.
Keanu Reeves doing F1 docudrama about game-changing 2009 season
Actor Keanu Reeves has started preparations for hosting a projected four-part docuseries about the 2009 Formula 1 season, Variety reported. The series is expected to air on Disney+ in 2023, though company officials declined to confirm details.
The focus appears to be Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn’s astonishing turnaround of the former Honda team. Brawn bought it in 2009, rebranded the organization as Brawn Mercedes, and scored instant success. Buoyed by World Drivers’ Champion Jenson Button and third-place finisher Ruberns Battichello, Brawn’s team captured the 2009 Constructors’ Championship.
Variety’s report said Reeves has lined up participation by the key team figures and former Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo. The actor attended the British Grand Prix this month at Silverstone.
Reeves said he took interest in the project after hearing the stories of a friend who worked for Brawn that memorable season.
“It’s been really great to be able to learn more about what was going on in Formula 1 that year,” Reeves said. “It wasn’t just the cars, new regulations, FOTA (Formula 1 Teams Association), breakaway series. I mean, there was just so much happening in Formula 1 at that time.”
Netflix and great racing have made Formula 1 must-see viewing
Formula 1 has been on the upswing in popularity since shortly after U.S.-based Liberty Media bought the assets after the 2016 season and began a strategy of pursuing a new, younger generation of fans. The action on tracks around the world hit its high point last season as four-time defending champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes surrendered his title to Red Bull sensation Max Verstappen.
The Formula 1: Drive to Survive series on Netflix has introduced F1 to a new audience. Recently, Apple Studios signed off on a Formula 1 movie on which Brad Pitt, John Krasinski, and Jerry Bruckheimer are collaborating. Variety reported that a series about ex-Formula 1 czar Bernie Ecclestone is also planned, and an Italian studio is working on a project about the first female driver.
All of those efforts will work to the benefit of Disney-owned ESPN, which recently won a battle to retain race broadcast rights through 2025, though at a substantially higher price than it had been paying.
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