Review of the documentary film A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story

Pros: People who knew him personally, Fangio himself and Formula 1 champions of different generations talk about Fangio; a lot of archival photos and video materials Cons: Focus primarily on the driver’s career, which is generally known to Formula 1 fans; the participants in the film speak four languages, English subtitles are not available everywhere A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story / “The Story of Juan Manuel Fangio”

Genre documentary
Directed by Francisco Macri
The film featured Juan Manuel Fangio, Fernando Alonso, Alan Prost, Jackie Stewart, Mika Hakkinen, Carlos Reutemann, Toto Wolff, Nico Rosberg, Horatio Pagani, Juan Manuel Fangio II and others.
Netflix Studios
Year of release 2020
IMDb website

And although Juan Manuel Fangio has “only” five championship titles against Michael Schumacher’s seven and Lewis Hamilton’s six, no one except him has won these trophies, playing for four (!) different teams (Alfa Romeo SpA (1951), Officine Alfieri Maserati / Daimler Benz AG (1954), Daimler Benz AG (1955), Scuderia Ferrari (1956) and again Officine Alfieri Maserati (1957)), not only changing teams right in the middle of the season! It should be understood that Formula 1 in the early and mid-50s. last century and Formula 1 in 2000-2020. – these are competitions that are completely different in complexity and danger to the pilot’s life. That is why the best pilots of both the past and the present century unanimously call Fangio the greatest. Ayrton Senna considered him this way, Alan Prost, Jackie Stewart, Mika Hakkinen and many others consider him this way.

The above-mentioned world champions are mentioned here for a reason; they all appear in A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story and talk about their relationship with Fangio and what racing was like in their times, comparing drivers, cars, the atmosphere in the team, security measures, etc. In addition to Alan Prost, Jackie Stewart and Mika Häkkinen, the film contains mini-interviews with Fernando Alonso, Carlos Reutemann, Nico Rosberg, current Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team boss Toto Wolff, car designer Horatio Pagani (who, it turns out, is also Argentinean and came to Italy with a letter of recommendation from Fangio, thanks to which he got a job at Lamborghini), nephew of the world champion and also a racer Juan Manuel Fangio II, etc.

111Review of the documentary film A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story / “The Story of Juan Manuel Fangio”

Moreover, the filmmakers often give the floor to Fangio himself, thank God, there are more than enough archival interviews with the driver. What is most striking about Fangio is his modesty. The racer talks a lot about his performances, but never uses the formula “I won,” only “I was lucky to win.” In general, Fangio belittles his merits in every possible way, praising the mechanics, designers, car, teammates, etc. Moreover, all failures are his own failures, and not the mistakes of the team or someone else. Even about his conflict with Enzo Ferrari, who did not tolerate too independent drivers, Fangio expresses himself extremely correctly.


A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story consists approximately half of archival footage from the Grand Prix of the 50s, interviews with Fangio and contemporary interviews with drivers. The authors decided to focus on the sports career of the world champion, which, in principle, is already well known to all Formula 1 fans. There is practically nothing about Fangio’s life in Argentina before 1950 and nothing about his life after leaving big sport, and this is a total of 76 years, not in the film. Moreover, even about the scandalous abduction of Fangio by Castro supporters in Cuba in 1958, exactly two words were said (this is not an understatement), and in passing by the racer himself.

One of the features of this documentary is that all of its characters speak their native languages. The film contains direct speech in Spanish, Italian, German, and English, and for some reason there are not all of the text with English subtitles. So this is a rare case when we recommend watching a film with Russian subtitles – they, of course, also have plenty of errors, but some fragments are easier to understand.


True, true racing fans may not find much new information about the life of the legendary Fangio in A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story, especially about his life outside of motorsports (for example, that after the exhumation of the driver’s body in 2015, two men were recognized as his illegitimate sons), but listening to Fangio himself, other outstanding drivers, and looking at archival recordings of the first Formula 1 Grand Prix is ​​incredibly interesting.

The film is highly recommended to all fans of royal motor racing, as well as those who are simply interested in racing and who, for example, liked such feature films as Ford v Ferrari / “The Outsiders”, Rush or Grand Prix.


Great film about the greatest Formula 1 driver ever

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