Bottas to make World Rally debut in Lapland

Valtteri Bottas: Rally debut in January

Valtteri Bottas: Rally debut in January

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will appear in the 2019 Arctic Lapland Rally, marking his debut in the category.

The ninth Finnish driver in Formula One history will return to his homeland as he tackles the snowy stages on January 24-26.

Armed with an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Bottas will have over 300bhp at his disposal as he finally tests his mettle at rallying, a sport which has become part of the heritage of his native Finns.

The Mercedes man will become the fourth driver on the 2019 Formula 1 grid to turn to the off-road spectacle.

Fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed two years driving top-line Citroens in the World Rally Championship in 2010 and 2011 before returning to Formula 1 with Lotus.

Robert Kubica, who returns to the Formula 1 grid for the upcoming season, was crowned champion in WRC2 – the category below the WRC.

Carlos Sainz Jr, son of two-time World Rally champion Carlos Sainz Sr, also drove the VIP course car on several stages of the 2018 Monte Carlo Rally.

Speaking via the official Formula 1 website ahead of his debut, Bottas said: “This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying, and I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.”

“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.”

Bottas will link up with one of his nation’s most successful co-drivers in the form of Timo Rautiainen, who called the pace notes for Marcus Gronholm when he claimed the 2000 and 2002 World Rally championships.

“In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers,” Rautiainen told the official Formula 1 site.

“But, this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge.

“I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.

“The challenging part of course will be learning the ins and outs of pace note making and learning to drive with pace notes all at once.”

Keep an eye out for the special event livery which Bottas’ car will be sporting, with the reveal scheduled in the coming weeks.

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