weather icon Clear

Crash course: Get up to speed on F1 with these movies

Lost among the excess traffic jams, the negative impacts on businesses and the community’s overall love-hate relationship with the Las Vegas Grand Prix is the fact that many of us don’t know jack about Formula One.

We’re here to help.

You won’t become an expert in time for the race, but these documentaries and docuseries will leave you with a basic understanding of Formula One’s history, going back to its incredibly dangerous early days when drivers never knew if they’d survive the next race, as well as some of its biggest names.

“Weekend of a Champion” (1972): Roman Polanski followed his friend Jackie Stewart around Monte Carlo during the 1971 Monaco Grand Prix. The film, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a driver in his prime, was considered lost for four decades. Then Polanski and Stewart, who retired in 1973 with three world championships during his nine-year F1 career, reunited for an epilogue, and the resulting re-release screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

“Schumacher” (2021): Michael Schumacher hasn’t been seen in public in the decade since a skiing accident in the French Alps less than 15 months after his second retirement. Despite being tied with Lewis Hamilton for the most championships, he may be best known to many Americans as the voice of Ferrari F430 in “Cars.”

“Lewis Hamilton: The Winning Formula” (2021): F1’s first Black driver is tied with Schumacher with seven championships — although some still insist Hamilton’s really won eight. “The Winning Formula” goes back to his days as a 7-year-old racing high-end remote-controlled cars as it looks at his place among Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and James Hunt as the greatest British drivers.

“Senna” (2011): This Sundance and BAFTA award winner explores the legacy of Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, who won three world championships and 41 Grands Prix during his too-short life and career.

“Max Verstappen: Whatever It Takes” (2020): Still just 26, the Dutch driver became the youngest man to compete in F1 and the youngest to win an F1 Grand Prix. Verstappen’s definitely a name to know, having long ago captured his third straight championship on the way to winning 17 of the 20 races so far this year.

“McLaren” (2017): Get to know the man behind one of the most iconic names in racing as New Zealand native Bruce McLaren moves out from behind the wheel and into the history books as the founder of the racing team with the third most constructor’s titles.

“Williams” (2017): It’s the only team standing between McLaren and Ferrari on lists of the all-time great teams, but Williams Racing is the one most in need of an introduction. See what it took to keep the family-run business near the top of the standings from its founding in 1977 by former driver and mechanic Frank Williams through his retirement in 2012, after which his daughter Claire Williams took over.

“Ferrari: Race to Immortality” (2018): Founded by Enzo Ferrari, the Scuderia Ferrari motor team had an enviable stable of drivers from 1955-58, including Eugenio Castellotti, Peter Collins, Alfonso De Portago, Mike Hawthorn and Luigi Musso. Unfortunately, as the documentary explores, those were some of the sport’s deadliest years on record.

“1: Life On The Limit” (2013): Michael Fassbender narrates this look at some of F1’s most dangerous years and the drivers who spearheaded safety changes.

“Formula 1: Drive to Survive” (2019-): The Netflix docuseries goes behind the scenes with unrivaled access to drivers and owners. It’s also credited with creating the current boom in F1 interest in the U.S.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on X.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Top 10 things to do in Las Vegas this week

NASCAR weekend, the Dave Matthews Band and a documentary about the Historic Westside top the entertainment lineup for the week of March 1-7.

After wake-up call, Eugene Levy embraces spirit of adventure

“You need that kick-in-the-can moment to get out of your comfort zone,” says the 77-year-old star of “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Reluctant Traveler.”

Top 10 things to do in Las Vegas this week

Bad Bunny, the Sin City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence charity event and the Harlem Globetrotters top the lineup for the week of Feb. 23-29.

Jennifer Lopez shares her advice for loving life

“Do what you love now,” implores the 54-year-old superstar, who this week drops a new album and an accompanying “cinematic odyssey.”

Top 10 things to do in Las Vegas this week

Wu-Tang Clan, the Black Crowes and National Pizza Day deals top this week’s lineup of things to do in Las Vegas.