There are easier (and warmer) events upon which to make your rallying debut, but nevertheless Mercedes AMG F1 ace Valtteri Bottas says he’s looking forward to taking a peek at rallying for the first time when he contests the Arctic Lapland Rally at the end of January.

And he’s throwing himself in at the deep end when it comes to the car he’ll drive too. It’s not a sensible R2 car, or even a grippy R5 machine – it’s going to be an all singing and dancing M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC. And he promises he’ll be driving it flat out too!

Bottas, who wears a Stilo STF5 N ZERO 8860 helmet in Formula 1, will be co-driven on the opening round of the 2019 Finnish Rally Championship by two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen.

“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,” said the Finnish driver. “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.”

Rautiainen is best known for co-driving for Marcus Grönholm, and whilst he has also expertly guided Sebastian Lindholm and Mikko Kalliomaa, Bottas will be only the fourth driver he’s navigated for.

“In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge,” said Rautiainen. “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.”