Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

This is how the teams do it (Part 1) // A look at the website presence of Formula One teams

Published by Christine

A week or so ago, we looked at how the driver's websites stacked up against each other, in four very separate posts. Now we're turning our attention on the teams, but the criteria is still the same. I'll be looking at it from a fan's point of view, assessing the content and general usability. The geeky one takes a more, well, geeky look at the sites, and then we rate them. Here goes.

Ferrari

Ferrari's site

I tried to link to the actual Ferrari Racing bit of the site, but it’s so flash-based, there’s no unique ID for that page. You have to pick your language, navigate whether you want the site or the store, then click on racing. Too much effort! Once you get that far, there’s not that much information on there anyway, but I do like the timeline through the years. A unique way of doing a biography, that includes a fascinating look at the way the cars have changed. The one problem I found is, even though I picked English, there still seems to be the odd Italian word thrown in here and there, making navigation harder, but not impossible.

I do like a website that resizes and repositions my web browser, no really, nothing makes me happier. I mean why stop there, why not rearrange my desktop while you're at it? I'm only the visitor, that's all.

Regardless of the heavy handed welcome, you would have thought that F1 was important enough to Ferrari to warrant its own site, wouldn't you? Instead you'll find your racing information buried under a sea of tiny little text links, oh and good luck finding your way around, even the English language version with its 6pt sized links contained Italian phrasing I could only guess the meaning of.

Incidentally, Ferrari have some great video interviews on YouTube, and I rather expected to find something similar here (albeit better quality), but alas if they're around anywhere I couldn't find them.

BMW

BMW's site

Firstly, it was impossibly slow to load. There was a competition for a trip to Malaysia, but I couldn’t wait for the site to load, so I’ll never be able to participate, let alone win. There is information about the Pit Lane Park, which is useful, and some team news, but nothing out of the ordinary to make it stand out.

Okay, I'm going to come right out and say it, in contrast to Christine, I think this is the best website I've visited in a very long time. Yes, I know it's built in Flash and I know there's no HTML version, but when a team of people put in this much effort and attention to detail, I can only sit back in awe. Seriously a thing of beauty.

To best illustrate why I like this place so much, allow me to guide you through but one section of many. Selecting 'Season 2008' from the top menu, followed by 'GP Canada' will introduce a short video clip. Watch closely as for a few brief seconds a BMW screams past not only the Casino de Montréal but also The Olympic Stadium. Clearly an F1 challenger was never in the vicinity of those two landmarks, which means somebody had to put it there by hand. I can't even speculate the amount of effort that went into creating those 3 seconds of film. Literally the car could've been anywhere on any track in the world and who would've noticed? That's my kind of attention to detail.

I will concede that all is not perfect though, and the sudden bursts of noise did ruin a particular track I was listening to at the time, and yep the site's slow, and sure the shop's a touch weird, but I forgive all sins because BMW's abode simply oozes character.

Renault

Renault's site

We’ve covered the Renault site in great detail previously, how it went completely wrong once a certain someone left. However, I’ll look at it with fresh eyes. It’s split into two – fan and team, which already makes me feel alienated. The team site is your standard news, statistics and history. The fan site is slightly more interesting, with the blog and the member additions. They were almost up to 7,000 members when I looked, so they must be doing something right.

As Christine points out this is a site of two halves, but I'm going to ignore the "Fan" section due to the fact it didn't load. In truth it very rarely does, the words "scalable" and "architecture" spring to mind here.

Five seconds... count 'em. That's the entire length of time I spend on the Renault site and that was enough to tell me nothing had changed. The offensive music startled me once again, while a huge window opened and automatically commandeered my screen - I think they call that the element of surprise. No doubt it looks great on a 40" projector beamed on the wall of the teams HQ, however it simply mocks my inferior equipment.

Williams

Williams' site

I really dislike the bubble thing, when I went to click on one of them, it disappeared. That’s not a great start in terms of usability. If you discount that, though, the navigation is easy with the menu along the top, and leads to some good stuff. There’s some really nice track guides, packed with information, and a fantastic animation of the 2006 car, where you can break it down to its very basic components. With detailed biographies on the key team members, including drivers, and a really good interactive tour of the factory, I could visit the Williams site over and over again. I just wish they’d get rid of the bubbles.

If Williams were as fast on track as they are on the web, we'd be crowning this year's constructors champions already. It's nice to wander around the site, the layout is uncluttered, the colour scheme is friendly and I felt drawn into digging deeper. So much information and I just wanted to read more.

No mention of the Williams site would be complete without a hat tip to the multimedia section. They're one of, if not the best in this area. Although, I could've sworn the Earth was more spherical the last time I checked. Maybe Sir Frank knows something we don't?

Red Bull

Red Bull's site

I don’t understand why, when I hover a link, the timer things go crazy. It doesn’t add anything or tell my anything, and simply makes me dizzy. There aren’t too many extras on the site, just the usual driver info, car statistics, and press releases. Red Bull have a style about them, though, that makes every piece of writing worth reading, in case it holds a hidden gem. They’re not afraid to poke fun at themselves, and everyone else, which keeps me on the site. I dislike having to click “Read More” on a news article, though, when there’s plenty of room on the page to fit it in.

At last a HTML site to rival the Flash incumbents. I actually prefer the basic version, best described as "how the web should be" given that it reinforces the team's brand whilst remaining both useful and user friendly. The over the top alternate version sadly offers little or nothing extra, except I quite liked the motion-blur-rollover-effect. Flawed though it is, given that your attention automatically moves to the thing that's supposed to be blending into the background. I saw some text to read but was far to busy fading the images in and out to pay any it attention.

One quick mention for the paddock fly-by at redbullf1.com, just because someone put a lot of work into it. It doesn't add anything to Red Bull's main site but kudos for the hours of work that went into an entirely pointless but frankly gorgeous animation. I stand up and applaud such a pretentious waste of bandwidth.

That's all for Part 1 of our team website summaries, don't forget to visit Part 2 where we look at the final five.

All content in the series Website Reviews 2008