Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas will make a one-off appearance in the opening round of the Finnish Rally Championship (FRC) at the Arctic Lapland Rally.

The Finn will get behind the wheel of a World Rally Championship-winning M-Sport Ford Fiesta partnering with two-time WRC champion co-driver Timo Rautiainen.

It will be the 29-year old’s first time behind the wheel of WRC machinery competing in the first round of the Finnish Championship, an event that has seen numerous appearances from Finnish F1 talents such as Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Keke Rosberg.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” said Bottas, speaking to wrc.com. “It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car.”
”Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

The 2017 built Ford Fiesta WRC has an inline-four turbo charged engine plus a six-speed sequential gearbox.

A shift to rally racing will be a big step for Bottas as Timo Rautiainen explained, understanding pace notes while driving at the limit involves serious amounts of concentration.

“It’s a big challenge because Valtteri has never driven in a rally before so he doesn’t know anything about pace notes,” he added. “The biggest challenge for him will be to understand the idea of pace notes and selecting a suitable system. We’ll look at onboard videos and the system used by different drivers before choosing, but it has to be a simple method.”

The Arctic Rally will run from 24 January – 26 January, 2019 around Finland’s northern-most region of Lapland.

Images via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and M-Sport

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Luke McCullough

Melbourne Based - 17 Grand Prix attendances and counting in Australia, Singapore, Canada, France, Austria and Great Britain.
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