Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Logo

The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team races at the pinnacle of motorsport – the FIA Formula One World Championship. With seven consecutive double Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships and eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships, it’s one of the sport’s most successful teams ever. So when loyal supporters land on their official fansite, it needs to feel as fast and reliable as Lewis Hamilton’s dream machine.
Industry: Sports/Automotive
Location: Brackley, Northamptonshire
Customer since: 2022

Favorite features
Network Services (CDN)
Image Optimizer

Your whoosh is our command: Fastly making Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 61.5% faster

Speed. Reliability. Scalability. All essential elements of a website and a Formula 1 empire. No other sport combines fighter pilot reflexes, sky high tech and elite teamwork. Not to mention the stamina to sustain success over 20 races, five continents and fierce rivalries. Yet Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 won a record-breaking eight constructor’s championships in a row.

So when it came to creating a dedicated fansite, they wanted to put loyal supporters in the driver’s seat with an image-heavy, ferociously fast, intensely immersive user experience. Fastly’s Image Optimizer achieved a 61.5% improvement in the site’s average speed index. Which is like Lewis boosting his Monza 2020 fastest average lap from 262.362 km/h to 423.715 km/h. But speed alone doesn’t win the modern web.

"Speed and reliability are the cornerstone of F1 racing, fans demand the best, so we needed to ensure our digital platform user experience matches the high-performance standards of the sport while keeping fans engaged, and coming back.”
Michael Taylor, IT Director, Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Here’s how we built fast but firm foundations for future success.

Putting fans first on the grid

“We needed a digital platform that matches our brand – performant, secure and always available. Fastly have delivered on each point.”
Michael Taylor, IT Director, Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Formula 1 inflames senses and sizzles synapses.

So it’s natural Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 wanted to build fans a website experience to match.

Eye-popping images, real-time race weekend stats, team updates and driver pages keep fans on track – with a cockpit view of every season’s tricky chicanes and champagne moments.

But bringing fans inside the team (and keeping them there) is no easy task. The site’s ever-evolving functionality should never adversely affect audience growth and experience. So the team was concerned any decline in performance and speed would lower engagement times, raise bounce rates and decrease returning users. And the SEO impact was also a factor – slow load times could trigger a swift slide down Google rankings.

Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 built the new site on a robust, flexible platform to pre-empt prominent problems at go-live, because it was vital for the business to be able to cut off concerns at the pass.

“Before working with Fastly, we relied on standard infrastructure to preserve performance in the site’s more static incarnation,” explains Chris Church. “But as it became more complex and image-heavy, we realized sky-high ambitions for future UX could only be supported effectively by an A-Grade optimizing tool.”

With that revelation, the search was on for a reliable technology partner.

Under the hood

Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 had several key requirements for any new technology:

  • No downtime or negative UX change when onboarding.

  • No issues plugging flexibly into existing infrastructure.

  • No scalability issues – solutions should grow alongside the site’s development.

  • No cost barriers – software should provide value for money with easy onboarding and delivery.

Improved performance and ease of integration with existing infrastructure were key metrics, because just as AMG and PETRONAS enhance the Mercedes F1 marque with fine tuning, fuel and lubricants, the fansite embraces continuous improvements to combine the best vendors for a unique UX.

As Penny Harrison explains, “The website was originally developed and launched as a Netlify-hosted NextJS website, with Contentful as the content management backend later. Both Netlify and Contentful provide CDN options for the serving of pages, data and image assets.”

So Fastly is used as a frontend CDN to both these services – caching pages, data and image assets on Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 domains which map through Fastly services to the Netlify and Contentful CDN URLs.

Every second counts – testing and results

The main KPI for the website is the loading experience for a fan. And at the moment, this page comprises content delivered by Netlify on the subdomain and images delivered by Contentful on the subdomain

To test page loading times and improve the end-user experience, Fastly rapidly tested in a matter of days by publishing a demo version of the site to a new URL which replaced the Contentful subdomain for images with one that Fastly controls. Fastly then set up their caching to map requests to this subdomain through to the Contentful subdomain and to apply dynamic image optimization when serving back.

This allowed easy comparison of the performance improvement of Netlify Pages + Fastly Images versus the live site (Netlify Pages + Contentful Images).

Fastly also set up another test subdomain in front of the main site URL, to test performance of Fastly Pages + Fastly Images against the two above. This created an environment to test whether there were any conflicts between Fastly caching and Netlify caching for page content, which might impact the publishing speed of site content updates. Thankfully, no such scenarios occurred.

The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 fansite only went live with Fastly on 6 September 2023. But it’s already generating some impressive results for key metrics like:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – a Google Web Vitals metric which measures when the largest content element on a page becomes visible.

  • Visually Complete – portrays the time when the page appears finished rendering to the user.

  • Speed Index – score that indicates the time to visual completeness of the page - the smaller the better

As mentioned, the wallpapers page contains the most content, so check out its results for prime performance improvement:

Mercedes customer case study image 1
Reduction from 29k ms to 6-8k ms for average Largest Contentful Paint.

Mercedes customer case study image 2
Average Visually Complete reduction from 50k ms to 5-10k ms.

Mercedes customer case study image 3
Average Speed Index improved from 18K to just over 4K so was divided by more than 4.

These Wallpapers page results speak for themselves. But there have been impressive lifts site-wide. For instance, the Average Speed Index for the home page has reduced from 18K to just 4.2K – a headline 61.5% increase in speed.

The average total byte count decrease is 10%. Ordinarily, a byte count decrease is associated with a decrease in visual quality. But that’s not the case here. That’s because the Fastly image optimizer works by finding the sweet spot between what the human eye can determine in terms of quality and the massive amount of detail contained in this type of highly immersive, image-heavy site.

Penny Harrison confirms the performance improvements unlocked by Fastly aren’t compromised by any noticeable decrease in visual quality:

“Take the wallpapers page for example, where the image quality is super-important. I can’t see any issues, even when viewing it on a big screen. The images are still incredibly sharp and high resolution, which is fantastic.”

Fastly to the future

With speed and reliability firmly in place, the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 fansite has a solid yet flexible engine for fueling performance now and down the line.

Clearing the road for experiences which will take fans as close to the action as possible (without actually piloting a car).

So what’s next?

Fastly’s Compute and CDN video streaming supports even greater interactivity, so the door’s always open for future collaborations with Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1.

But regardless of future green lights, it’s been an honor burning rubber with this brilliant team.

“Mercedes F1 fans expect the best. So as their site becomes more complex and image-heavy, it also has to become more user-friendly.”

Penny Harrison
Head of Digital, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1

“We’ve got great stats from pages like the wallpaper page – the most image-heavy, high-quality, rapidly changing page on the site.”

Chris Church
Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Global Partnerships & VP Partnerships APAC

“We want to throw everything at this site. So in a couple of years, it’ll be all-singing, all-dancing, with games, personalization – the whole package. With Fastly, we’ve established a baseline that doesn’t fluctuate. We can keep improving the site without negatively impacting the user experience or annoying our fans. Because constantly improving their engagement and experience means everything.”

Penny Harrison
Head of Digital, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1

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