e.dams-Renault’s Nico Prost took his first Formula E victory in the Miami ePrix after moving past a slowing Audi Sport ABT Daniel Abt to win under a yellow flag.
A storm shortening a two hour learning curve to a single 30 minute session would be the stuff of nightmares for a new driver behind the wheel of a radically different car, unless you happen to be Scott Speed.
The Andretti Formula E team man had shown adeptness to take tenth on the grid, but the American saved the best for last.
While Speed bided time, the race was dominated from the off by the continuous battle between Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird and pole man Jean-Eric Vergne of Andretti.
The duo got off the line swiftly and Bird was able to move past Prost for second. Prost wasn’t done, knocking Vergne into a slight twitch that almost opened the door for the Brit.
Vergne had however done enough to retain his lead, but only by the slimmest of margins as Bird quickly became the fastest man on track with the third lap’s best time.
The race leader was aided by the design of the Miami ePrix layout, a narrow circuit that foiled overtaking with 90 degree turns.
In most series, it would’ve killed the race but the equality of the cars combined with ballsy driving overcame the limitations.
Bird certainly fitted the description, probing for a passing opportunity but as energy levels plummeted it became clearer that the pits would be where the two would end their battle.
Yet the Virgin man had another ace up his sleeve, forcing Vergne wide at turn fiive to assume the race lead.
It was an impressive overtake ruined by timing. By overtaking, the Brit had missed his chance to change car and his Renault-Spark crawled another lap on less than 1% of battery life, costing valuable time.
Vergne had timed his moment right, but a seven second delay in the pits meant he joined Bird in blowing his chance of the lead.
The two contenders then lost that status as they re-joined in the lower reaches of the top ten as Abt assumed the lead when Venturi GP’s Nick Heidfeld pitted a lap later.
Heidfeld was out of the running for the win, but a man who pitted the same lap moved into the limelight.
Taking advantage of his team-mate’s loss of time, Speed made short work of passing Vergne before hunting down the top three.
Surprisingly dispatching Lucas di Grassi with ease, the Andretti racer was soon comfortably in the top three.
Still he pushed, as Abt’s energy deficiency to the now second placed Prost and Speed meant he was a sitting duck.
The German was able to defend resolutely in the final five laps, causing Prost a lock up that almost opened the door to Speed with a defensive move.
With energy dwindling, the long straight on the penultimate lap meant Abt saw Prost pass and, while attempting maximum energy recovery under braking to compensate for low power, Speed saw his chance to power through for second.
It was cat and mouse in the final two laps, with Speed’s pressure causing Prost to clip the wall on the final lap, but the Frenchman held on to take his first victory.
Following the top two was Abt who held onto a podium spot ahead of Dragon Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio.
In fifth was a driver who managed to sweep up the field in the same way Speed did, with China Racing’s Nelson Piquet Jr’s expert passes on Bird and Vergne instrumental in his drive.
Punta del Este ePrix race winner Antonio Felix da Costa struggled in qualifying but managed to climb up the order from sixteenth to sixth.
In the same boat as Speed was Audi World Endurance Championship racer Loic Duval who steered his Dragon Racing Renault Spark to seventh despite a starting position of eighteenth.
Bird eventually finished eighth ahead of di Grassi and Amlin’s Salvador Duran, taking advantage of Vergne’s late off that meant him and Mahindra Racing’s Bruno Senna were the only retirements.