Abt loses win chance, but hangs on for first Formula E podium in Miami

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MIAMI – Daniel Abt’s day at the office in Miami was pretty close to perfect, except for the final two laps.

The driver of the No. 66 Audi Sport ABT entry was well positioned to win his first FIA Formula E Championship race, but the German was forced to back off and conserve enough energy for the finish despite leading Laps 23 to 37 in the 39-lap Miami ePrix.

If today was a case of losing the race but gaining the podium with third place, it was certainly a day where Abt capitalized on his yearlong pace and actually got the result to go with it.

“I’m extremely happy to be on the podium,” Abt said in the post-race press conference. “The first race I thought I had it and then it was pulled away. We’ve had many chances to get close to podium and never made it. Finally we put everything together.”

Abt started third in each of the first two races this year, but ended 10th in both.

The German sprung into the lead courtesy of a split strategy between he and teammate Lucas di Grassi during the race. Abt became net leader on the pit sequence halfway through the race, and took over the outright lead by Lap 23, after Nick Heidfeld pitted.

Abt had the lead but did not have enough energy life left to last the duration, and he also had a pack of challengers behind him threatening to pass. Eventual winner Nicolas Prost finally did on the second-to-last lap, with Scott Speed following shortly thereafter for second.

“It feels really bad, especially when you’re leading,” Abt admitted. “It was my first time leading and you know it’s going to get tougher, tougher. Every lap you see you’re not really on target, they had one lap less so they could go really fast.

“I tried to push and stay ahead, but I knew there was no way I’m gonna make it. Then it’s better to let them go ahead and make it safe instead of doing something crazy and that’s what I decided to do.”

The result could be a breakthrough run for the GP2 veteran, who also tested an IndyCar this offseason for Andretti Autosport. Abt will look to build on the result in Long Beach in three weeks time.