Page Load Speed Study on Formula 1 Team Websites

My one-year journey as a full-time white hat SEO
November 11, 2018
formula 1 teams page load speeds

A few days ago I started watching the Netflix series Formula 1: Drive to Survive.  I knew formula 1 was a very competitive sport full of adrenaline, but I was amazed at the similarities between the SEO industry and Formula 1 scuderias.  This is a quick study on page load speed and the impact it can have on your site.

What do Formula 1 drivers and SEOs have in common?  

Hint: Is not the money, but that’s a different topic. We’re both very competitive data-driven individuals always in a race for the best results.  We are always aiming for the best rankings and just like in formula 1, a few milliseconds for us can make a huge difference in the top ten positions.

SEOs competing against each other

Sometimes as SEOs we compete against ourselves for a better page loading speed, or against a fellow teammate just like Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen during the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.  

My disappointment with F1 motorsport team websites

Every single team member in a motorsport team has the same competitive mindset, pit stop crew members and drivers alike. Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing about their SEOs.  There seems to be a disconnect between a good looking site and a high-performing page.

Formula 1 SEOs or design agencies don’t seem to care about the amount of time it takes for a page to load.  Everything is so bloated it takes way more than the 3 second industry standard at the moment to load a page on desktop. Don’t even get me started about mobile page load speeds.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like their websites and I can appreciate a great design.  Most of them have amazing layouts, so in general they do a great job at keeping fans informed about the latest news in the F1 world.  But just like I mentioned, I am not a hardcore formula 1 fan, I am an SEO and from the unaware perspective I had a really hard time finding the correct site for some of these teams.  Secondly, I don’t think everybody would be willing to wait 21.3 seconds or in some cases up to 30.7 seconds for a page to load.

Me waiting for McLaren’s page to load

I can’t help asking, do they care?  Does it have an impact in their revenue?  Do they even know?

It would be a better user experience for their fans if they spent some time doing technical SEO and looked for ways to optimize page load speeds.  Good thing their drivers don’t consider this when they negotiate their contracts or they jump ship just like the Williams crew.

Formula 1 team website load speeds

For this test I looked up formula 1 team websites and got the full team names from the formula1.com website.  It would have been easier if they linked out to the team websites but they don’t so I might have the wrong site in one or two cases. Note: Redbull Racing and Toro Rosso are two different teams.   I tested every home page, a subdomain (ferrari) or the internal F1 page on GTMetrix with the following settings:

  • Test Server Region: Dallas, USA
  • Browser: Chrome (Desktop)
  • Connection: Unthrottled connection

F1 Team Standings vs Page Load Speed Comparison

Website Load Speed by Team

Team2018 Race StandingsPage Load Speed (seconds)
Mercedes13.2
Ferrari26.7
Red Bull38.5
Renault422.1
Haas53.7
McLaren630.7
Racing Point72.2
Sauber83.2
Toro Rosso921.3
Williams103.1
Force India112.2

McLaren Website Performance

Not much of a performance if you ask me, but in McLaren’s case, the McLaren formula 1 page site is so bloated with heavy image files that it takes 30.7 seconds for it to load!  A total of 13.8 Mb. Walls of images everywhere! Background images, sliders, behind subheaders, everywhere! Is it really necessary? Anyway, if they decided to keep the same layout compressing and serving scaled images could save them up to 6.6Mb a 84% reduction.  Maybe I should send them an invoice after this.

Page load speed report on McLaren's Formula 1 page

McLaren, I don’t know what you guys are trying to do here, but it’s taking over 25 seconds to load.  I wonder what their bounce rate is for this page.

Why should you care about page load speed?

There are multiple reasons why you should pay more attention to page load speeds.  Here’s a good one: Revenue! Honestly, all boils down to revenue. Page load speed is part of the domino effect to get to the first page of search results and traffic that will turn into conversions.

If you care about your readers and user experience, then page load speed should be on top of your mind when designing a website.  Google has been focusing on providing a better user experience to readers when browsing on mobile devices, therefore page load speed is a ranking factor to appear in the first 10 search results.  

If users click the back button to go back to search results because the page is taking forever to load then Google is going to push that page down to lower rankings.

John Mueller discussing page load speed during Google's webmaster hangouts

John Mueller – English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout

Google’s senior webmaster trends analyst John Mueller mentioned this during a Google Webmasters hangout when he said some pages with bad speed rank not because they meet all of Google’s requirements, but simply because there are no other pages with better information.  

Brands like Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari don’t need to worry about search rankings.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t improve their process and user experience. They can still optimize their sites to meet not only Google’s but their reader’s requirements.

Follow my blog for this and other topics on Search Engine Optimization.

Erix
Erix
I an SEO and website designer with over 19 years of experience based out of Ocala, FL. My mission is to help customers get their message across with functional search engine optimization and aesthetically pleasing website design.