Chasing the Dream carves open Formula 2 like never before, taking viewers behind the scenes of the cut-and-thrust world of junior formula. Introducing fans to a legion of fresh motor racing talent, the documentary captures the pressures these young drivers face as they bid to realise their dream of reaching Formula 1.
Season 2 is out now, and we spoke with Producer and Director Rory Child to get an insight into the making of the show.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
The idea was sparked following conversations in early 2019 between those at the top of Formula 2 and Formula 1 on the back of the success of Netflix’s F1 documentary Drive to Survive. It quickly came to fruition and Rory Child was drafted in by the video team to produce and direct the project and was flown out to Bahrain to begin filming.
Child had a background at Sky Sports where he had worked his way up from runner to Assistant Producer before going it alone. That had resulted in work throughout sport, including mountain biking, cricket, football and F1. Most notable to F2 was his work on a documentary called School of Hard Knocks, a character-led series on Sky.
Chasing the Dream season 1 was very much an experiment, but an extremely successful one at that. The characters of the paddock shone through which led to the issue of a second season, again, with Child at the helm.
BUILDING ON THE SUCCESS OF SEASON 1
With a years’ experience of what did and didn’t work, the team at F2 entered the planning and development stages of season 2 knowing what they wanted to achieve.
“We knew what was popular,” Child explained. “It was getting that rare insight into the drivers' personal lives. The biggest thing that stands out for me, compared to Formula 1, is that there is very little - broadcast wise - exposure for the drivers compared to F1. You have the website and social media, but you don’t see any features on tv or anything like that, which you do with F1.
“You turn on your tv, Alex Jacques gives an intro and you're off. You don't really get that look into the paddock or anything, like you do with F1. By doing this documentary, we were able to show off everything that people don’t see at home. There was all of this unexplored stuff.
“That is favourite part of making the documentary as well. Genuinely, the drivers are a pleasure to work with and they have always got time for you.”
THE EFFECT OF COVID-19
Preparations were brought to abrupt halt as the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the postponement of the season, with no promise that it would even actually begin. The Championship was eventually given the green light under a host of health and safety restrictions.
Before they had even begun, that was episode 1 in the bag.
“We had this totally unique situation to deal with,” he recalled. “For obvious reasons, we didn’t have any behind the scenes content from lockdown, but luckily we had been able to capture the F2 Virtual Grand Prix and then there was the return to racing.
“The Covid restrictions were tough, and then there was the nature of the calendar. We had multiple triple headers and God knows how the engineers did it.
From my side, after the third weekend on the trot, my shoulder was in bits from holding the camera. It was a tough year, but I enjoyed it so much that the pain went away.”
TELLING THE STORY OF 2020
With the opening round of the season finally underway, things settled down and the storytelling truly began. Despite the change in circumstances, the on-track action and the tales F2 wanted to tell remained the same.
“We knew that Schumacher was going to be a big story,” Child continued. “Then there were people like Robert Shwartzman, Yuki Tsunoda and the other rookies coming through. Mostly, I wanted to build on what had worked in season 1.
“You also had this strong group of sons of drivers too, with Pedro Piquet joining the grid, and the likes of Schumacher, Guiliano Alesi and Louis Delétraz. We based an episode around them and that was a fun one. It was good to show the expectation and pressure on those with a big name attached.
“The new tyres played a big part as well, because in many ways it really reset the field. Those were the main themes that we focused on, as well as the championship fight. I think they’re all cool episodes. They're subtle, not wham-bam in your face, and we are still telling the story of the season all the way through.
“We filmed some really cool stuff that just didn’t make it as well. You have got some really brilliant characters, some of which we couldn’t really showcase in 2020, so hopefully we’re back for a third season and we can dig into them.”
This six-part docuseries is available exclusively for a limited time on F1TV Access and Pro now.