The world’s most technically advanced F1 racing team demands the sport’s most technically innovative website.
McLaren Formula 1
Over the last 5 years we have continually re-engineered McLaren’s online presence. Embracing new technologies. Adapting to new rules. Always better. Faster. Just like the car…
We launched our first McLaren F1 site back in 2010. Introducing McLaren LIVE — then titled — The Race 1.0b — the idea was to visualise the telemetry from the car, on the site, to augment the live race. A status update from an F1 car.
Designed completely around the fans, the telemetry feed pulls live data straight from the track to your device. A true second screen experience, visualising the driver’s live speed, position, gears, G-force, tyres, lap times and pit radio.
This was McLaren F1’s first website — as they started to move from a business to consumer brand. It was the first time they had created digital content for the fans and it was the sports’ first proper second screen, fan experience — “a second screen experience that gets fans closer to the action than ever before”.
The original design was deliberately tech — aimed at hardcore fans — created ‘raw’ to give them a sense of sitting on the pitwall with real engineers during the race.
We continue to iterate and improve the experience for the fans just like the team iterate the car itself.
Year on year we have built upon the service and developed both the site and the Live dashboard. It moves ever more visual and in places more literal to aid understanding in the complex sport.
With each iteration, both the site and LIVE have become more accessible. We continue to refined and matured the design language, the UX has become more inclusive enabling wider participation and support for a less hardcore fan, whilst the aesthetic remains resolutely premium.
McLaren measure success fairly simply:
1. Are we growing our numbers? visits, interactions… (easy to measure).
2. Is this a product worthy of the McLaren brand (more difficult — over the course of our relationship, we have grown to become brand guardians for all of McLaren’s digital platforms, we need to be as steadfast on this as McLaren are).
Everything we do must measure up.
To achieve objectives, we’ve substantially increased the amount of original content created — such as the #Senna20 campaign which resonated with all F1 fans, regardless of team affiliation — growing the role of McLaren.com/f1 as a destination within the sport
McLaren have access to the brilliant photography of Darren Heath, guest blogs written by former drivers such as Mika Hakkinen & Emerson Fittipaldi, and the famous F1 journalist, Alan Henry.
Additionally, the site has developed into a home for an increasing number of campaigns, like the 50yr Heritage Car Celebration and Driver Quiz etc. Housing these within the F1 site mean maximum exposure to our fan base.
The McLaren Formula 1 website achieved almost 9,000,000 page views in 2014. We also have major events and releases that cause spikes of traffic to the site. With so many people hitting the site, often concurrently, we need to have some fairly beefy architecture in place to handle it all.
We’ve had a great relationship with Rackspace since the early days. Their Cloud offering is solid and their Fanatical Support is worth the outlay.
Our first tactic is fairly standard — we use multiple cloud servers to host different applications. Some are specced up more than others dependent on their use. We affectionately name them after F1 drivers (Montoya, Coulthard etc.) to make them easy to identify.
Above all this sits the Cloudflare solution. Cloudflare gives us bulletproof protection against hacking (or DDOS attacks), masks our IPs for protection, and also gives us a lovely extra layer of caching to take the strain off the servers. We also use Varnish for caching. Caching is good, unless you can afford to run and maintain a nuclear power station of a server. Most of us can’t.
9,000,000+ page views in 2014
Our busiest day was 24th January 2015, the launch of the MP4–29 F1 car. We saw a quarter of a million page views in 1 day. Nothing crashed.
A core team of 6 — Designer, 2 developers, a Producer, a CD. We bring in experts when required, e.g. for advanced UX work.
Over 250 support tickets logged in 2015 so far. This is a full time managed operation!