The first win is the hardest, Lauda tells Bottas

“To win the first grand prix.

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..is always the most difficult one,” the retired triple champion and non-executive chairman of Bottas’s Mercedes team, 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,” added the Austrian, who was surprised Ferrari did not win in Sochi given their race pace and having both cars starting on the front row.

Instead, Bottas roared past both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to seize the lead into the first corner in a move that decided the outcome.

The Finn has had to wait longer than most to scale the top step of 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 team mate 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 team mate, 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.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Storms in US South and Midwest kill at least 14

Severe weather devastated homes, overturned cars and felled trees, with the National Weather Service confirming at least four tornadoes in Texas.

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The mayor of Canton, Texas – a city some 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Dallas – said the death toll there stood at four.

“It is heartbreaking and upsetting to say the least,” Mayor Lou Ann Everett told journalists Sunday.

A spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management told AFP severe weather had caused at least five fatalities in that state.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency had confirmed two deaths, one of them a child who was killed by electric shock in floodwater.

Cars and trucks are damaged as the walls blew out of the I-20 Dodge dealership after a tornado hit near Canton, Texas, Saturday, April 29, 2017. (AAP)AAP

Heavy rains also lashed the midwestern state of Missouri, with at least two reported casualties. According to CNN one of those killed was a 72-year-old woman who was stranded in her car as it was swept away by floodwaters.

In Tennessee, a two-year-old girl was pronounced dead at a hospital in Nashville after she was struck by a heavy metal soccer goal blown over by heavy winds, according to the city’s police department.

As of late Sunday the NWS was projecting major flooding to continue in parts of eastern Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Authorities warned that severe storms potentially packing heavy winds, large hail and tornadoes could hit parts of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern US by Monday afternoon.

Other news

SA premier apologies over Oakden scandal

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has apologised to the residents of a state run nursing home and their families, after damning revelations on the quality of care at the facility.

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Mr Weatherill returned from holidays on Monday and reiterated an apology made by Mental Health Minister Leesa Vlahos over the poor treatment and potential abuse of elderly dementia patients at the Oakden facility.

“It is deeply distressing,” he told reporters at the Adelaide Airport before flying to the APY lands in the state’s north to take charge of a country cabinet meeting.

“I’m deeply sorry to those families and those residents that they experienced that abuse, that they experienced that neglect.”

The response was “not really good enough” to the widow of former patient Bob Spriggs, whose family alleges he was overdosed and also suffered severe bruising while in the facility early last year.

Barb Spriggs, whose husband has since died, said it took 10 months for complaints about the home from her family to gain traction with authorities and she is appalled to have since learnt of issues dating back even longer.

“It’s just appalling to think that it’s been covered over for over 10 years and nobody has picked up on it,” she told ABC radio on Monday.

The premier said steps are being taken to remedy the situation and that Ms Vlahos, who has resisted calls from the opposition to quit, has his full support.

He said she should be acknowledged for initiating an inquiry that has revealed “the depth of the concerns at this institution”.

But he said it is “disturbing” that mechanisms in place to safeguard the wellbeing of residents at facilities like Oakden did not fully reveal the issues there before Ms Vlahos decided in December that an inquiry was needed.

The inquiry, conducted by SA’s chief psychiatrist, uncovered the rough handling of patients, an excessive use of restraints, and a concerning level of injuries.

Releasing it in April, Ms Vlahos said a culture of cover-up existed at Oakden, which was now set for closure.

The opposition, medical groups and some families have accused the government of ignoring previous warning about care at the home.

Mr Weatherill said Ms Vlahos responded properly to a complaint about Oakden in 2014 but was given inaccurate advice at the time from SA Health.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall says nobody involved in the situation wants to take responsibility and the premier should have sacked Ms Vlahos to demonstrate his standards or have set a better culture for the public service.

“The fish rots from the head,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“This government is incompetent, ministers don’t take responsibility and consequently there are massive areas of neglect and cover up.”

Outlook key as ANZ starts earnings season

ANZ will kick off what is expected to be a solid round of bank earnings over the next week, with investors eager for clues on how long the blue skies over the sector can last.

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ANZ is tipped to unveil a first-half cash profit of about $3.79 billion – up more than 30 per cent on last year’s writedown-heavy $2.8 billion – thanks to a strong performance by its retail unit, tight cost control and a sharp drop in bad and doubtful debt charges already flagged in its first-quarter trading update.

National Australia Bank and Westpac are also expected to announce larger profits over the coming days but, with financial stocks having gained more than 20 per cent in the past six months, the market appears to have already priced that in.

“Investors are anticipating solid results supported by low bad debt provisions and cost control,” CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael McCarthy said.

“Yield investors continue to see banks as a relatively stable income proposition in the near term.”

The results will be the first since the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority introduced new restrictions on the amount banks can lend in the form of interest-only loans.

Banks lifted interest-only and investor rates as a result of APRA’s intervention and, while that could have a positive impact in the second half, banks could face earnings pressure in the longer term if the moves successfully reduce home loan demand from investors.

UBS banking analyst Jon Mott says that, while the banks have enjoyed a purple patch over the past six months, APRA’s limit on interest-only lending and hints of further increases to housing risk weights will have a bigger impact than many expect.

“The impact of this is likely to be decelerating credit growth to low single digit levels in FY18/19,” Mr Mott wrote in a note.

“Additional mortgage repricing is highly likely.”

ANZ lifted rates on some interest-only loans at the end of last week, with the impact to be seen in its full-year results.

Mr Mott has forecast a $3.31 billion cash profit for NAB when it reports on Thursday and $3.98 for Westpac next Monday.

Commonwealth Bank, which announced a 2.1 per cent lift in half-year profit to $4.91 billion back in February, will release a third-quarter trading update on May 9.

Sea of surpluses in Victorian budget

Victoria will get “surpluses as far as the eye can see” as it rings up more than $8 billion over the next four years, Treasurer Tim Pallas says.

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But he admits a key project will not go ahead unless the federal government stumps up the money.

A $1.2 billion surplus for this financial year will be unveiled in Tuesday’s budget, with average surpluses of $2.4 billion over the forward years, Mr Pallas said on Monday.

Along with debt being kept below the level the Labor government inherited from its coalition predecessor, Victoria has a greater capacity for infrastructure investment, Mr Pallas says.

“We’ve increased our level of infrastructure investment from around about $4.9 billion to $10.1 billion in this budget,” Mr Pallas said.

“Imagine how much more we could do if the federal government were interested in partnering with the state of Victoria instead of playing politics?”

A state and federal stoush is looming over a $1.45 billion regional rail revamp announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday, to upgrade the Gippsland and Warrnambool lines and a new Surf Coast line.

Mr Andrews only told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the project that day, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan spoke to her federal counterpart on Saturday evening, and now the two governments are squabbling over the cash.

The money is owed under the asset recycling scheme after Victoria sold the Port of Melbourne lease for $9.7 billion.

The $1.45 billion is included in Tuesday’s budget but the projects will not go ahead without the commonwealth funds, Mr Pallas said.

Before the election, the government promised no new taxes but it now says it will not increase taxes to fund election promises.

Two tax changes, for investment properties and new cars, were announced on Saturday and together are set to bring in $120 million a year.

The money will be used to “improve services and improve our offering around capital investment”, which Mr Pallas conceded were election promises.

“But everything we are doing now is far and away in excess of anything we offered at the last election,” Mr Pallas said.

Tackling family violence will be a key part of Tuesday’s budget and new schools are also expected to be funded.

Earlier on Monday, $26.5 million was committed to boosting the improvement in ambulance response times.

Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien criticised Labor for smaller surpluses than what was left to them and wasting money on infrastructure business cases.

“Victorians are seeing talk, they’re seeing higher taxes and charges, they’re not actually seeing the work being done that makes their life better,” he told reporters.