MIAMI – Nicolas Prost, son of four-time World Champion Alain, has snatched a dramatic victory in the fifth round of the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship at the Miami ePrix, courtesy of a pass for the lead on the second-to-last lap of the 39-lap race.
As leader Daniel Abt (No. 66 Audi Sport ABT) slowed to conserve energy to make it to the finish, Prost (No. 8 e.dams Renault) made it past in Turn 8 to lead onto the start straight.
Not long after, Scott Speed (No. 28 Andretti Autosport) made it through on the inside of Abt into Turn 1 for second. Despite hounding Prost for the lead on the final lap, the American came up just short at 0.433 of a second off the win in his first open-wheel race in years. Prost started third, and Speed 10th, on the afternoon.
Prost becomes the fifth different winner in as many FE races; Speed scores a home podium as an American driver, in the first of two U.S. races, in the Andretti Sports Marketing-promoted event; Abt came home third for his first podium in the series.
The win is Prost’s first in FE, but not his first in America; he is a past two-time overall winner of Petit Le Mans with the Rebellion Racing organization.
Much of the race changed during the pit stop cycle to change cars, as you’d expect, and the erstwhile leaders fell a bit through the pack as a result.
Polesitter Jean-Eric Vergne (No. 27 Andretti Autosport) led the opening 18 laps, but never by too much with Sam Bird (No. 2 Virgin Racing) and Prost hounding him and staying within a few tenths.
Vergne, despite being one of three FanBoost recipients (Bruno Senna, Salvador Duran the others), still burned through his available energy faster than the rest of the field on the first sequence.
A lap after Vergne made a fairly noticeable lockup when his battery life was under 10 percent, Bird and Prost had a bit more in hand. Bird made it past Vergne for the lead on the inside at Turn 5 on Lap 19.
That lap opened the pit stop sequence with Vergne, Abt, and at least eight others making their stop to change cars.
Prost, Speed and Bird, among others, pitted a lap later on Lap 20, with the last two drivers, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Nick Heidfeld stopping on Lap 21.
Abt inherited the lead following the pit stop sequence on Lap 23, ahead of Prost, Lucas di Grassi, Vergne and Speed. Bird fell to seventh and was never back in contention due to energy issues.
Speed passed his teammate a lap later as Vergne’s car began to fade, and with more energy to burn, Speed was able to charge closer to the podium trio. Abt, meanwhile, had burned through more energy earlier in his stint and had to drive slower to conserve it to the finish, which ultimately cost him.
By Lap 33, just 1.4 seconds covered the top four and a lap later, Speed made it past di Grassi for third. On Lap 36 the top three were separated by under eight tenths of a second, and it built to the crescendo of the final three laps.
Prost made the pass on Abt at Turn 8, with Speed following through shortly thereafter for second. That trio maintained the gap to the checkered flag.
Jerome d’Ambrosio (No. 7 Dragon Racing), who started eighth, ran a quiet but solid race en route to a season-best fourth – his third top-six in five races.
Piquet Jr. (No. 99 China Racing), who fell back from second on the start, salvaged a fifth place and valuable championship points.
Two drivers who turned in barnburner efforts from the back of the field were Antonio Felix da Costa (No. 55 Amlin Aguri) and Loic Duval (No. 6 Dragon Racing), ending sixth and seventh after starting 16th and 18th on the grid.
Bird ended eighth, ahead of di Grassi and Duran. Senna and Stephane Sarrazin retired; Vergne, meanwhile, struggled to 18th and retired with two laps to go with overheating issues.
Prost, courtesy of the win, has unofficially taken over the points lead from di Grassi. His e.dams Renault team should well extend its lead in the Team’s Championship.
The series resumes on April 4 in Long Beach, on a truncated version of the Grand Prix circuit, for the second U.S. race.