Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas will make his rally debut next month when he enters the opening round of the Finnish Rally Championship, driving a World Rally Championship-spec Ford Fiesta.

Bottas will enter the Arctic Lapland Rally driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC - the same model of car in which Sebastien Ogier has won the last two WRC titles - taking on the course around the Finnish Arctic circle.

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"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," Bottas said.

"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 will be joined for the rally by co-driver Timo Rautiainen, who worked with Marcus Gronholm between 1995 and 2007, winning two world championships. Rautiainen is coming out of retirement for the rally to work with Bottas.

"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."

The Arctic Lapland Rally takes place on January 24-25 2019.