Mercedes’ F1 driver Valtteri Bottas will kick off his 2019 motorsport calendar by taking part in the Arctic Lapland Rally in a WRC car.
Valtteri Bottas is set to take part in the rally, the opening event of the Finnish Rally Championship in 2019. Taking part in his first rally, he’ll be taking on the snowy roads of Finland’s Arctic Circle in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC car. His co-driver will be experienced two time World Rally Champion co-driver Timo Rautiainen, who worked with Marcus Gronholm during his time in the WRC.
“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 in.” said Bottas of his announcement.
Bottas won’t be the only man on the grid to have attempted rallying before. Compatriot Kimi Raikkonen is an avid fan of the WRC and spent two years in the championship while on his F1 hiatus in 2010 and 2011. He was usually quite fast, but erratic as he was prone to crashing. Robert Kubica is also a stalwart of the WRC, although this wasn’t entirely by choice. While taking part in an extra-curricular rally similar to the one Bottas is participating in, Kubica crashed his car during a pre-season event in Italy in 2011. The injuries he sustained resulted in him requiring numerous surgeries to save his left arm and hand, and it’s only in the past few weeks that he has made his way back to a full Formula 1 drive by signing with Williams for 2019.
Rautiainen says that Bottas faces a stern challenge, not just in terms of the actual driving, but the act of having to listen and adjust to pace notes continuously – the aspect that both Raikkonen & Kubica both acknowledged as the most difficult part of rallying: “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. 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.”
My first ever rally will be the Arctic Lapland Rally in January with @MSportLtd 🚙
Very excited about this new challenge!
Read more about it here:https://t.co/wEewsrHIN2#Msport #missioninlapland #tehtävätunturissa #flyingfinn #westpro @Konecranes @AKKMotorsport @OfficialWRC pic.twitter.com/5VHx0qKPdi
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) December 11, 2018