In the world of Formula 1, milliseconds are the difference between Pole Position and second on the grid. Millions of dollars are spent on getting the maximum performance out of both the car and the driver. Aerodynamics, car weight, engine performance, pit crew efficiency, strategists, meteorologists, engineers, etc. all play the part of trying to secure the desired podium finish.
On July 6, Mercedes managed just that with British driver Lewis Hamilton, who won his home Grand Prix at Silverstone in front of record crowds. His teammate, Nico Rosberg, was not so lucky and had to retire due to gearbox issues.
How does this all tie in and relate to web performance? The same Formula 1 ethics and tactics should be applied to website design, performance, and implementation, ensuring maximum performance for your visiting audience.
How did all the Formula 1 teams perform off the track?
Catchpoint set up web tests for each F1 team’s homepage, which was monitored at 30-minute intervals from each country where a Grand Prix is taking place over the 2014 calendar. The table below shows the average webpage response, page size, and number of requests for each homepage.
Marussia are the clear winners in all the metric categories, getting just edged out by Lotus for the number of objects on the page, but still having an ultimately faster and more efficient homepage.
Mercedes clearly have an excellent engine underneath them, as they finished an impressive third with the heaviest page weight; some basic web performance tuning could see them at the top. The quick win for their site would be to optimize images, roughly saving approximately 50% per image.
The table is interesting reading because the teams that are top on the race track are mid-table or near the bottom in website performance. Marussia, on the other hand, only managed to get one car over the finish line in 17th place in the race, but led the way in the web performance stakes.
Some of the teams are using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to help speed up the delivery of their content, but in some cases not very efficiently.
For example, McLaren are routing people in Dubai to a Singapore edge server, and content from the UK is coming from either Paris or Amsterdam. There is plenty of room here to improve their online performance.
Smartphone & Tablet support varied with all three methods being used: desktop, Responsive Web Design, and Adaptive Web Design. The page weight in all cases was still heavy for use over 3G/4G networks, and thus no doubt caused frustration for fans.
Force India, who adopted the Adaptive Web Design approach, still managed to serve up over 1MB of data for their mobile ‘optimized’ page.
The next Grand Prix will no doubt see more upgrades for some of the cars on track to further squeeze out those essential milliseconds. Let’s hope that they will do the same for their websites and strive to be the fastest both on and off the track.