Lauda: Bottas' 'life is easier' after Sochi success

Niki Lauda hailed Valtteri Bottas' start with Mercedes after he put himself in the title frame with a fine victory in Russia.

Valtteri Bottas celebrates Russian Grand Prix win.   -  Getty Images

Valtteri Bottas will find Formula One race wins easier to come by after taking his maiden victory at the Russian Grand Prix.

Bottas started third in Sochi, but jumped the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen before aptly controlling the latter stages of the race as four-time world champion Vettel closed onto his gearbox.

And retired three-time title winner Lauda believes Bottas can now push on in search of further wins, having taken his first chequered flag in just his fourth race for Mercedes.

"To win the first grand always the most difficult one," Lauda told reporters.

"This I know out of my own experience. So every one that comes next, for him, his life is easier. He has proven that he can win.

"As soon as you win the first grand prix, a big load comes off."

Having replaced retired champion Nico Rosberg in a late move ahead of the 2017 campaign, Bottas had been expected to play second fiddle to Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton this season, and had entered the week fighting off questions about team orders going against him.

But the Finn is now just 10 points behind his stable-mate, who finished a distant fourth in Sochi.

"Lewis is an outstanding talent, world champion, so it depends on the conditions of the race," Lauda said. "Bottas beat him and maybe the next three times Lewis will do that. 

"He is a very good replacement for Nico, I have to say. Pole position [in Bahrain] and one win in four races is not a bad performance for us." 

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