Best F1 Documentaries Of All Time

F1 documentaries became popular even before Netflix became famous. Watching documentaries, for some, is a preferred form of home entertainment; adding F1 into the mix makes it all the more exciting. So many F1 documentaries are on the market, and we list them all here for your pleasure.

Best F1 documentaries to watch are Schumacher, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, Senna, A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story, Lauda: The Untold Story, McLaren, Life on The Limit, Rush, Williams, Crash and Burn, Weekend of a Champion, Ferrari: Race to Immortality, and The Race to Perfection.

With more than three months to go before the start of the 2022 F1 season, we decided to list the best F1 documentaries to keep you entertained while waiting for the F1 racing season to start again.

If you’re looking for some F1 merchandise, check out the awesome stuff at the official F1 store here.


Best F1 Documentaries

Schumacher (2021)

With great archival footage and exclusive interviews, this documentary about Michael Schumacher’s life and racing career paints an intimate portrait of the seven-time F1 champion.

With millions of fans globally, Schumacher’s triumphant fight and strong will to win against all odds placed Michael Schumacher in the middle of global attention.

Schumacher’s career captured the admiration of millions, but this very private man has a lot more to offer than only F1 racing. His strive for perfection and never-ending fighting spirit defines Michael Schumacher as a person.

At times his insecurities and self-doubt showed us a more sensitive side. At the center of Michael’s story are Corinna, his childhood sweetheart and the love of his life, children, and parents. This documentary tells Michael Schumacher’s life story really well.

The seven-time F1 World Champion raked in five victories in a row while driving for Scuderia Ferrari. He dedicated his first F1 championship title to the late Ayrton Senna in 1994. This film is the first documentary/bio made since his skiing accident on 29 December 2013.

Cast
Michael Schumacher (archive footage), Corinna Schumacher,Ralf Schumacher, Mick Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Flavio Briatore, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, David Coulthard, Bernie Ecclestone, Piero Ferrari, Damon Hill, Mika Häkkinen, Eddie Irvine, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Jean Todt.

Directors / Writers: Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker, Michael Wech

Run Time: 1 hour 52 minutes

Release date: 15 September 2021 / Netflix

Formula 1: Drive to Survive (2019)

This series is about the FIA Formula One World Championship covering several racing seasons and is a great watch. The series is not only focused on Ferrari or Mercedes, but you get a close look inside the world of F1.

Formula 1 Drive to Survive shows personal stories from teams and drivers.  Highly recommended for every F1 fan.

Cast

Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Niki Lauda, Will Smith, Daniel Craig, Alain Prost, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel, Will Buxton, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Douglas, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen, Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Tom Brady, Jackie Stewart, Mick Schumacher, Sergio Pérez, Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, George Russell,

Toto Wolff, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hülkenberg, Alexander Albon, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat, David Croft, Christian Horner, Günther Steiner, Cyril Abiteboul, Zak Brown, Marcus Ericsson, Stoffel Vandoorne, Brendon Hartley, Sergey Sirotkin, Robert Kubica, Claire Williams, Gene Haas, 

Martin Brundle, Maurizio Arrivabene, Otmar Szafnauer, Geri Horner, Joe Ricciardo, Frank Williams, Carlos Sainz, Vijay Mallya, Eric Boullier, Matt Solomon, Helmut Marko, Anthony Hamilton, Tony Stewart, Mansour Ojjeh, Beat Zehnder, Onur Han Besen, Gizem Besen, Franz Tost, Paddy Lowe.

Run Time: 40 minutes

Release date: 8 March 2019 / Netflix

Senna (2010)

This is a gripping documentary about the memorable life and tragic death of legend F1 Champion Ayrton Senna. He won the F1 world championship three times and died a sad death aged 34 during a race. 

This documentary features Senna’s struggles on and off track and against his arch-rival, Alain Prost, the French World Champion at the time. 

It also showcases Senna’s fight against politics which is evident in F1. Senna became an F1 superstar globally. Inspirational, spiritual, and on occasion ruthless but privately, the shy, humble, fiercely patriotic Senna donated millions to his native country Brazil.

Ayrton Senna was struck down in the prime of his life on the worst day in F1 history. Senna’s tragic accident was viewed live by 300 million people on television. Decades later, Ayrton Senna is still considered F1 racing’s greatest driver and, in his home country Brazil a Saint.  Ayrton Senna is regarded as the greatest F1 driver in racing history.

Cast

Ayrton Senna (archive footage), Neyde Senna, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Reginaldo Leme, John Bisignano, Richard Williams, Nelson Piquet, Rubens Barrichello, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, Roland Ratzenberger, Bernie Ecclestone,

Emerson Fittipaldi, Gerhard Berger, Damon Hill, Murray Walker, Galvão Bueno, Bussunda, Claire Chazal, Itamar Franco, Adriane Galisteu, Luiz Fernando Lima, Paulo Miklos, Adrian Newey, Riccardo Patrese,

Mili Okada, Ron Dennis, Viviane Senna, Pierre Van Vliet, Vera Lucia Caixeta, Arnaldo Jabor, Xuxa, Jean-Marie Balestre, Martin Donnelly, Jackie Stewart, Sid Watkins, Frank Williams, Patrick Head.

Director: Asif Kapadia

Writer: Manish Pandey

Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes

Release date: 2010/11

A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story (2020)

This documentary film is about Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s. He won five F1 championships driving for four different teams.  The is the first official documentary about the life and career of F1 driver Juan Manuel Fangio.

It is also known as Fangio: The Man Who Tamed the Machines

Cast
Juan Manuel Fangio, Fernando Alonso, Mika Häkkinen, Toto Wolff, Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, Nico Rosberg, Pablo Posada Ávalos, Horacio Pagani, Andrew Bell, Hans Hermann, Carlos Reutemann

Director: Francisco Macri

Running Time: 1 hour 32 minutes

Release date: March 2020 /Netflix

Lauda: The Untold Story (2014)

F1 driver Niki Lauda survived one of the most horrific crashes in F1 history in 1976. Lauda: The Untold Story shows previously unseen footage. This documentary showcases what happened on that fateful day at the Nurburgring.

The film features Niki Lauda’s courageous journey to recovery after that near-fatal crash. It gives the viewer a glimpse into Niki Lauda’s struggle and his miraculous comeback in Monza a few weeks later.

It also investigates the impact that Lauda’s crash had on his life and F1 as a whole.

It looks at the safety improvements from the 1900s to today. It features exclusive access and interviews with Lauda and team Mercedes. F1 motor-sport icons past and present, including Sir Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard, James Hunt, Marc Webber, and Lewis Hamilton.

Cast

Niki Lauda, Mark Weber, Jochen Mass, Hans Joachim Stuck, Daniel Audetto, David Coulthard, Lewis Hamilton, James Hunt, Nico Rosberg, Jackie Stewart.

Director: Hannes Michael Schalle

Running Time:  1 hour 30 minutes

Release date: October2014

McLaren (2017)

McLaren shows the world how a man from a humble background can make his mark on the world of motor racing. McLaren is the story of one man’s dream turned to reality and will inspire generations of F1 fans. 

The inspirational documentary is about Bruce McLaren, who founded the McLaren Motor Racing team in New Zealand. McLaren is the untold story of his unswerving tenacity, passion, and pioneering spirit. The story of Britain’s famous motor racing empire is a compelling tribute to never giving up on a vision.

Cast
Chris Amon, Ruth McLaren, Jan McLaren, Jim Anderton, Mario Andretti, Colin Beanland, Jack Brabham, Alastair Caldwell, Gordon Coppuck, Emerson Fittipaldi, Marilyn Fox Halder, Howden Ganley, Dan Gurney, Bruce Harre, Robin Herd, Phil Kerr, Gary Knutson, Patty McLaren-Brickett

Director: Roger Donaldson

Running Time:  1 hour 32 minutes

Release date:  August2017

Michael Schumacher: The Making of a Legend (2019)

This film is an intimate story of the man who broke almost every F1 record. Coming from the humblest origins elevated to global superstardom with extraordinary achievements. It tells the story of his life, relationships with his friends, and former colleagues sharing their views on what made Schumacher successful.

Cast

Michael Schumacher, (archive footage), Ross Brawn, Martin Brundle

Running Time:  50 minutes

Release date: January 2019

Rush (2013)

This film is based on the relentless rivalry between F1 drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt as the focal point. Director Ron Howard did a spectacular job recreating the races and the F1 era.

The film is set against the glamorous golden age of F1 racing in the 1970s. Based on the true story of the rivalry between English playboy James Hunt played by Hemsworth, and the brilliant, methodical Austrian Niki Lauda, played by Bruhl.

The film features their distinctly-different personalities off and on the track. It showcases the astonishing 1976 season in which both drivers risked everything to become world champions. This film is highly recommended for any F1 fan.

Cast
Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino

Director: Ron Howard

Written by: Peter Morgan

Running Time: 2 hours 3 minutes

Release date: September 2013

1 – Life on the Limit (2013)

This film features the danger, excitement, and history of F1. It includes interviews with Jackie Stewart, Martin Brundle, Mario Andretti, Lewis Hamilton, and Bernie Ecclestone.

The film depicts the golden era of F1 racing and features the story of professional drivers who pushed themselves to the limit, risking their lives during the sports deadliest period. Featuring the drivers who changed F1 racing forever.

Cast
Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Fassbender, Niki Lauda, Sebastian Vettel, Mario Andretti, Jackie Stewart, Bernie Ecclestone, Jenson Button, Nigel Mansell, Max Mosley, Damon Hill, Sid Watkins, Eddie Jordan, John Surtees, Martin Brundle, Robert Kubica, Emerson Fittipaldi.

Director: Paul Crowder

Running Time: 1 hour 52 minutes

Release date: October 2013

Williams (2017)

Williams is a compelling film depicting the life of Sir Frank Williams, his family, and his career. His obsession with speed inspired him to create one of the world’s most fascinating F1 racing teams. In 1986 a near-fatal car accident at the peak of this success left Williams fighting for his life and the team’s future undecided.

Cast

Jamie Berry Brother of Ginny Williams, Emily Bevan as Ginny Williams, Keith Botsford, Valtteri Bottas, David Brodieas, Frank’s Best Friend, Roger Bunting Frank’s Friend and Flatmate, Pamela Cockerill,

 Piers Courage Frank’s Friend and F1 Driver, Frank Dernie Former Williams Engineer, Jenny Funnell as Pamela Cockerill, Howden Ganley Williams Driver 1973, Lewis Hamilton, Sir Patrick Head Former Williams Engineering Director, Alan Jones Williams Driver 1978-1981, Charles Lucas Frank’s Friend, Nigel Mansell, Felipe Massa, Patrick Nève.

Director: Morgan Matthews

Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes

Release date: August 2017

Weekend of a Champion (1972)

Director Roman Polanski spent a weekend with world champion driver Jackie Stewart as he attempted to win the 1971 Monaco Grand Prix in 1971. This film features extraordinary glimpses into the life of Jackie Stewart, a gifted driver at the peak of his success.

It showcases a surprisingly in-depth look at Stewart’s race during the Monaco Grand Prix in 1971.

Roman Polanski is a close friend of Stewart, making it possible to get Stewart to be candid and revealing. Weekend of a Champion was produced before Stewart’s safety crusade got underway. Jackie had lost most of his close friends to fatal racing accidents by this time.

The film shows how Stewart’s interest in improving driver safety during his interviews with Polanski grows.

Cast

Jackie Stewart, Roman Polanski, Grace Kelly. Prince Rainier of Monaco, Helen Stewart, Joan Collins, Graham Hill, Maureen Starkey, Ringo Starr

Director: Frank Simon, Roman Polanski

Running Time:  1 hour 33 minutes

Release date: September 1972

Crash and Burn (2016)

This film depicts the rise and fall of talented F1 driver Tommy Byrne.  For but a second in the 1980s, this bad boy was the world’s greatest F1 driver.

Byrne was often compared to Senna before his fiery temper got him in trouble several times. This gripping film portrays the legend that he nearly was.

Tommy Byrne came from a humble background in Ireland, to be considered one of the most promising drivers of 1980’s F1, but somehow Byrne did his best to crash and burn without reaching success.

He was given several opportunities to succeed, but he never ceased his bad behavior or changed his attitude.
As the film progresses, it portrays the message that Byrne has feelings of bitterness and resentment in the past, but in reality, that doesn’t seem to be true.

The film showcases the intuitive, brilliant, aggressive driver who terrified everyone on the youth circuits with his aggressive driving.

The mouthy, cocky Irishman fought with everyone, had an altercation with Ayrton Senna, infuriated friends, created enemies, took drugs, drank a lot, and ended up on the Mexican race circuit, where his life consisted of women and partying.

He was never at home or completely welcomed in the privileged F1 world. His wild behavior included a series of drug and alcohol-fueled escapades which ultimately led to his expulsion.  

Ferrari: Race to Immortality (2017)

Ferrari: Race to Immortality tells the story of the Scuderia Ferrari team, which Enzo Ferrari created.

This film depicts Scuderia Ferrari’s fight to stay on top during the darkest and deadliest decades in F1 racing history during the 1950s.

Drivers and cars were constantly pushed to the limits, and the race for the world championship meant driving on a knife-edge where one mistake could mean you die.

The towering figure of Enzo Ferrari was at the center of it all, driven to win at all cost. Two British stars, Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins put championship second and friendship first in the middle of the tough competition.

Ferrari: Race to Immortality features the losses, loves, tragedies, and triumphs of Ferrari’s legendary drivers in an era where it was winning or dying on any given Sunday.

Cast

EnzoFerrari, Peter Collins, Lin Gallagher, Mike Hawthorn.

Director: Daryl Goodrich

Running Time:  1 hour 32 minutes 

Release date: November 2017

The 24 Hour War (2016)

Car magnates Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II developed a fierce rivalry when they went head-to-head on the battlefield at the 1966 Le Mans.

The 24 Hour War showcases the epic battle between Ford and Ferrari, one of the most notorious rivalries in racing history. This film does a great job documenting the gripping competition.

The most notorious battle in racing history started when Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari to save his failing company in 1963.

 GM and the Corvette were destroying Ford at dealerships and on the track. Ferrari, at the time, was the most successful racing team.

Negotiations went on for months, but then Enzo Ferrari declined to sell. Enzo refused to let Ford buy what he worked so hard to create and loved more than life.

Henry Ford became furious and promised to develop a racecar to destroy Ferrari. Ford designed and started production on the GT40, and at Le Mans, the battle between the two racing teams will forever be remembered as one of the fiercest on a race track.

This film is perfect for lovers of racing history and vintage movies.

Cast

Henry Ford, Charlie Agapiou, Piero Ferrari, Mario Andretti, Edsel B. Ford II, Peter Brock, Mauro Forghieri,  Dan Gurney, David Hobbs, John Horsman, Bob Bondurant, Preston Lerner, Peter Miles, John Morton, Ralph Nader, Jackie Oliver, Brian Redman, Jack Sears, Carroll Shelby, John Surtees, Carlo Tazzioli, A.J. Baime, Gordon Chance, Brian Laban, Lee Holman, Alan Grant,

Director:  Adam Carolla, Nate Adams

Running Time:  1 hour 39 minutes   

Release date: 2016

Le Mans: Racing Is Everything (2017)

The Le Mans is an endurance car race that occurs annually near Le Mans, France.

The world’s oldest endurance race lasts 24 hours and is like no other. A great endurance test for drivers and cars. The first race took place in 1923.

The series gives you unprecedented access to the six best racing teams, professional drivers, and high-tech cars.

Le Mans: Racing is Everything travels to test tracks and team shops around the world to give you a look at the preparations in the run-up to the race. It further covers the lows and highs of the event to provide viewers with an in-depth look at the drivers who put it all on the line for victory.

This series gives you an inside look at the nearly century-old race that pushes cars and drivers to the edge. Le Mans: Racing is Everything is a must-watch for all F1 fans.

Cast

Louis Mellis – Narrator, John Hindhaugh, Shea Adam, André Lotterer, Jim Roller, Mark Webber, Jann Mardenborough, Darren Cox, Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard, Claire Hayden, Sébastien Buemi, Chris Reinke, Marcel Fässler, Bart Hayden, Andreas Seidl, Steve Mardenborough, Kyle Wilson-Clarke.

Running Time:  Series / Episodes

Release date: 2017


Other Best F1 Documentaries to Watch

  • Motorsport Heroes
  • Jochen Rindt: Uncrowned Champion
  • Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story
  • The Formula One Drivers aka The Quick and the Dead
  • Stirling
  • If You’re Not Winning, You’re Not Trying
  • The Race to Perfection
  • Michael Schumacher, The Red Baron

One to Keep an Eye Out For, Senna Mini-Series To be Released in 2022

A Fictional Mini-Series on Ayrton Senna /Netflix

Netflix announced a new eight-part biopic series on the life and career of F1 icon Ayrton Senna for release in 2022. 

The mini-series have Senna’s family’s approval, Produced by Gullane for Netflix. It will showcase Senna’s journey to global superstar. It features his arrival in England for his first season of Formula Ford 1600 to his tragic death at Imola during the San Marino Grand Prix 1994. 

Ayrton Senna’s official website stated that the Netflix series is an opportunity to explore the family relationships and personality of the three-time F1 champion. Ayrton Senna’s family is committed to making this series unique. 


Conclusion

F1 racing has seen many drivers become superstars, something about a racing car driver that gets fans excited. When the F1 season starts, all F1 fans come to attention, but when the F1 season is over, we flock to the documentaries and films to watch to keep us going until the next racing season.

An excellent F1 documentary, series, or film can be just what we need to keep F1 obsession going. We listed some of the best F1 documentaries and future releases for you in this article, and we hope you watch them all.


Sources

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