For­mer world cham­pion Lauda ap­plauds Bot­tas for his maiden vic­tory at Sochi

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SOCHI the podium but the man he re­placed in Jan­uary, re­tired 2016 world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg, took his first vic­tory in his 111th grand prix start af­ter also start­ing out at Wil­liams.

Fel­low-Finn Mika Hakki­nen, world cham­pion in 1998 and 1999 with McLaren, took 96 races.

Only last week, re­porters were ask­ing Bot­tas about hav­ing to ac­cept so-called ‘team or­ders’ and help triple cham­pion team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton in the ti­tle bat­tle against Vet­tel but it looks dif­fer­ent al­ready.

Bot­tas is now just 10 points adrift of Hamil­ton and, hav­ing started the sea­son as an emer­gency stop­gap, can now quite le­git­i­mately see him­self in the cham­pi­onship mix.

That sit­u­a­tion poses another headache for Hamil­ton but is one that Mercedes are re­laxed about hav­ing to man­age. They do not ex­pect the re­la­tion­ship to turn sour as it did be­tween the Bri­ton and Ros­berg.

“He (Bot­tas) took up that risky move to be Lewis Hamil­ton’s team­mate, to take over the reign­ing world cham­pion’s car, and I think that he has done a very good job,” said team boss Toto Wolff.

“The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two is very in­tact, Lewis was one of the first to con­grat­u­late Valt­teri on his first race vic­tory and I think that shows the re­spect that they have to­wards each other.

“Nev­er­the­less, both of them are fierce com­peti­tors and they will want to win races and fight for a cham­pi­onship.

“But I don’t think it will af­fect the re­la­tion­ship and the dy­nam­ics within the team like it did in the last years be­tween Nico and Lewis.” Reuters


Mercedes driver Valt­teri Bot­tas cel­e­brates with the team’s crew af­ter win­ning the Rus­sian Grand Prix on Sun­day.

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