Nicolas Prost won the Miami ePrix, round five of the FIA Formula E Championship, after three other drivers lost their claim to victory.
Prost passed Daniel Abt for the lead with a decisive move in the closing stages and held off a charging Scott Speed to the finish. Early leader Jean-Eric Vergne suffered a disastrously slow car swap that cost him his shot at winning and Sam Bird almost ran out of power after he had grabbed the lead.
Vergne (Andretti) led away from pole, and Prost’s DAMS car punted him under braking for Turn 1, but Vergne just held on. Behind them, Sam Bird’s Virgin car passed a fast-starting Abt for third.
Bird grabbed second from Prost with a great move on the opening lap, and then took the fight to Vergne – who didn’t scamper away like he did on his debut in Uruguay but had the bonus of fanboost available.
By lap four, Bird was right on the tail of the former Toro Rosso Formula One racer, who had held a one-second lead on the opening lap, and stayed on his case during the opening stint.
Behind Prost in third, Abt held fourth ahead of Stephane Sarrazin, points leader Lucas di Grassi, Nelson Piquet Jr (who carried over a grid penalty over from the last race in Buenos Aires after qualifying second) and Jerome d’Ambrosio. Sarrazin clipped the wall on lap 18, and tumbled to the back of the field.
Despite two big lock-ups from Vergne on lap 17, he still clung to the lead by half a second. But Bird lunged past with a great move at Turn 5 soon after – and was immediately warned about using up too much of his energy, while Vergne dived into the pits straight away.
Bird had to cruise for a lap as he almost ran out of usable energy – “zero-point-one” he reported of his percentage remaining from the cockpit.
After the car swaps, Abt, Prost and di Grassi all got ahead of Vergne, who lost seven seconds to his rivals in the car swap. Piquet Jr had been very frugal with his energy use, and stayed out later than his rivals – apart from Nick Heidfeld, who also led a lap.
Vergne now had teammate Scott Speed right behind him, the Andretti cars running ahead of d’Ambrosio.
As the race approached its climax, Abt had Prost – who had six percent more energy saved – chipping away at his lead, with di Grassi holding a watching brief in third. Speed passed Vergne for fourth with a brilliant outbraking move at Turn 5 on lap 25.
Piquet, who also suffered a slow stop, then passed Vergne with a great move with a handful of laps remaining, and attacked d’Ambrosio for fifth.
Speed repeated the move on di Grassi to grab third with four laps to go, and then charged up to the leaders in the closing stages. The top three were running as one as the finish loomed, and Prost grabbed the lead at Turn 8 and Speed also passed Abt for second, who just couldn't keep up as he'd used too much power.
Prost then hit the wall at the start of the final lap, but he just held on by 0.433s. “I had so much power in the bank at the end, man!” exclaimed Speed.
"I was a bit lucky when I touched the wall at the end," admitted Prost, who was joined on the podium by his father Alain.
Abt finished five seconds down in third – saying "I had no chance to finish first, I had to save my energy" – ahead of d’Ambrosio and Piquet. Buenos Aires winner Antonio Felix da Costa romped up to sixth in the final laps, ahead of Loic Duval, Bird and di Grassi, who lost places late on.
Vergne’s day went from bad to worse, and he didn’t make the finish.