The first Formula E race in the U.S.A was won by Nico Prost, after he pulled a stunning move on Daniel Abt on the penultimate lap of the Miami ePrix. It was a win that will mean a great deal to Prost and the e.Dams Renault team; Prost led every lap in Beijing but failed to finish after his incident with Heidfeld. In Miami, he did the opposite, snatching the win from Abt whilst holding off a determined Scott Speed. He now leads the championship.
The start of the race saw Jean-Eric Vergne lead the way from Prost, who touched the rear end of Vergne’s Andretti into turn 1. Sam Bird soon dispatched Prost and begun closing in on Vergne, but the top 3 would remain in that order for the duration of the first stint.
Whereas the earlier races saw multiple safety cars, Miami proved to be a relatively clean affair with no drivers retiring early on. Much of this was caused by the track layout which made overtaking very difficult compared to previous races. As a result, battery power conservation proved to be key as the race went on and it was clear that some drivers were struggling to get halfway through the race with their first car.
In the end, Sam Bird’s superior power management and confidence under braking allowed him make to make a brave move past Vergne on lap 20, however the joy proved to be short lived. Bird stayed out to do one more flying lap whereas others, including Vergne, made their one and only pit stop. The Brit was clearly struggling for power on his final lap and by the time he did make his stop, he had fallen down to 9th position. It was a disaster for Bird, who failed to make his way through the field after this set back. There was also bad news for Vergne, whose pit stop was 7 seconds slower than the minimum pit stop time, dropping him down to 4th after the stops.
The second half of the race was characterised by a resurgent Scott Speed, who did an excellent job on his debut to save his power for the end of the race. He dispatched Lucas Di Grassi into turn 3 on lap 35 and followed Prost past Daniel Abt on lap 38. It looked as though the debutant would win on home soil but in the end Prost held on for a well deserved win, despite touching the wall on the final lap.
‘I was a bit lucky because I touched the wall one lap from the end’, said Prost, reflecting on his race win. It capped off a series of great performances from the Frenchman, who has been a front runner since the season started, particularly in qualifying.‘ I was really happy with my qualifying too. It was the perfect race’, he finished.
Despite not winning, Scott Speed was clearly delighted with his 2nd place. He told ITV 4’s Nicki Shields that ‘It was a great learning experience. Unfortunately for us, Prost had the same strategy and we both could push on the last lap’. He gave credit to his team for his strategy too, stating ‘I just did what the guys told me to do. They really know their stuff’.
Unfortunately the race proved to be disappointing for several drivers, including retiree Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld, who started at the back of the grid after receiving a penalty in qualifying. Heidfeld tried to use an alternative strategy to push him further up the grid, running a longer first stint to those around him, however in the end it made pretty much no difference to his result, as he finished outside the points yet again. The Amlin Aguri and Trulli teams also seemed to be completely off the pace come race day, highlighting once again the difficultly in extracting the maximum pace from these electric cars.
Overall it was a fantastic debut for the Miami ePrix and the series is off to a great start in North America; even better because next up we’re headed to the West Coast and Long Beach, for Round 6 of the FIA Formula E World Championship.
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Written by: Anil Parmar