Mercedes F1 driver Valtteri Bottas will make his competitive rally debut in January’s Artic Lapland Rally in Finland.

Bottas will drive the 2018 Ford Fiesta WRC car with experienced co-driver Timo Rautiainen at his side in the three-day rally on January 24-26, 2019 with the Finn making his official rally racing debut.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” said Bottas, who will get two days of practice on the snowy roads ahead of the rally event. “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.” Bottas follows fellow Finn F1 racers Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Mika Salo, Kimi Raikkonen and Heiki Kovalainen to compete in the rally.

Speaking to WRC, Rautiainen said: “It’s a big challenge because Valtteri has never driven in a rally before so he doesn’t know anything about pace notes. 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 rally is organised by Finnish motorsport body AKK-Motorsport under its Flying Finn concept.

Bottas’ Ford Fiesta will feature a white and blue livery with a Flying Finn insignia sticker inscribed on the rally car. Last year’s event was won by Finn Teemu Asunmaa, who drove a Skoda Fabia R5.