A look around the ART Grand Prix factory at the beginning of episode two reveals Lewis Hamilton’s white and red GP2 car on the wall, 16 years on from when he won the title.
The car hails from a time when Hamilton was a lesser-known prodigy, way before his seven Formula 1 World Championships. Imagine if you could have gotten a glimpse into his personality while climbing the junior motorsport ladder, into that now historic season where he won the GP2 title.
That’s what Formula 2’s documentary Chasing the Dream provides for the next batch of future superstars. And season three does it better than any other.
“By giving one person more time and dedication, you get to know them better,” says Producer and Director Rory Child. “If you try and tell too many stories, then the impact is diluted, so by focusing on that driver a little bit longer, you really get to know them better and for me, that is a positive.
“That is the main difference with this season, compared to the last two. We tried to base an episode around one driver, but that isn't to say we didn't focus on other drivers too, but the protagonist kind of wrapped up the whole episode and tied it all together.
“It really is a strength of the series. You get to see these young drivers at a make-or-break stage of their junior single-seater racing career, and they are funny, mostly very humble, and down to earth, even though it is fiercely competitive.”
And for all of the on-track action and the enthralling title battle that played out over the course of 2021, it is the human element of Chasing the Dream that shines through. Whether that be Guanyu Zhou playing golf, Théo Pourchaire wandering around Paris, Dan Ticktum at the BRDC Farm club, or Robert Shwartzman ripping a dune buggy around the Abu Dhabi desert.
There is also a lengthy sit-down between Oscar Piastri’s manager Mark Webber and lead F2 commentator Alex Jacques, discussing the 2021 Champion’s rise through the ranks and his future on the F1 grid.
Having produced the documentary with these drivers for three seasons now, Child knows what works and what doesn’t, and he knows how to get the best out of the drivers.
“We actually went to Disneyland with Théo (Pourchaire) but that didn't make the cut,” continues Child. “We also spent a lot of time with Dan Ticktum, the Alpine Academy guys at home and at Enstone, and then in between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, we went Dune Buggy driving with Robert Shwartzman.
“That was genuinely terrifying. It was at night, in an incredibly quick machine, and Robert was blasting it around with me in the passenger seat. It was very funny, but I am relieved that the camera didn't get too covered in sand.
“I think this thing about being a whole package, a complete racing driver, now includes being able to talk well on camera and show your personality. Look at Lewis Hamilton, he is the best. Everyone is clocking onto that, and I think the documentary helps it.”
As well as showcasing the personalities of future F1 stars, like 2022 Alfa Romeo driver Zhou, Chasing The Dream also offers a glimpse into the future of the F2 grid, with an episode following Formula 3 for the first time.
It makes for a very well-rounded experience, with multiple drivers moving on after several years in the Championship, and others set to step up from the third tier.
“There are a lot of drivers leaving the Championship, so it is almost their final hurrah,” says Child. “I am not talking purely about the ones who have moved into Formula 1, like Guanyu Zhou, Oscar Piastri and Robert Shwartzman. There are quite a few second and third years who have nothing to lose.
“At the same time, you should be looking out for the drivers who are going to be fighting for the championship in 2022. Théo Pourchaire and Liam Lawson come to mind but there are plenty of others, and that is what’s great about it: you’re seeing these guys right from their first year of Formula 2 or, in some cases, like with Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan, you are seeing them beforehand.
“These are the guys you expect to be fighting for the Championship in 2022 and this series gives you a really good idea of what they are like and who they are.”
All six episodes of the third season of Chasing the Dream are available now on F1TV Access and Pro.