Lauda: The season starts in Spain


Niki Lauda believes the season will "start new" at the Spanish Grand Prix due to the vast amount of upgrades being introduced.

At the front of the grid, Red Bull will unleash their 'B-spec' chassis in an attempt to narrow the gap to leading duo, while Ferrari themselves have also been looking at ways they can make aerodynamic gains.

Mercedes, meanwhile, have had concerns over the weight of their W08 since the start of the season, and Lauda reckons the first leg of the European calendar marks the real start of the 2017 campaign.

"It's very simple, everyone will come with upgrades," said Lauda.

"The season will start new and whoever has the better upgrades, we don't know yet. But we will see in Barcelona, in practice and then in the race."

Lauda also had his say on Valtteri Bottas' abilities following Jacques Villenueve's uncertainty that the Finn has what it takes to become a World Champion.

"Nobody knows," he said when asked if Bottas was World Championship material.

"This is one race, he has won his first race and now we have to wait and see. You cannot force this kind of thing.

"Bottas was quicker [in Russia] because he won the race but Lewis is an outstanding talent, a world champion. Bottas beat him but perhaps the next three times maybe Lewis will do that.

"You cannot say this but he is certainly a very good replacement for Nico, I have to say, because twice pole position and to win the fourth race is not a bad performance for us."