Hanninen has left the factory Skoda Motorsport team following a four-year tenure with the Czech make when he won a hat-trick of titles including the Super 2000 world championship in 2011 and the European championship this season.
M-Sport will run the Finn’s Fiesta although the British firm has confirmed the car won’t be entered under the M-Sport Qatar World Rally Team banner, meaning the identity of the squad’s third driver remains unclear after Hanninen was linked to the vacant seat at the weekend.
“I want to thank Skoda for the past four years,” said Hanninen. “Together we won all we aimed for, but, unfortunately, the two-year programme they offered me wouldn’t have taken my career forward. My life’s ambition has been to compete at the highest level of rallying, the WRC, and succeed there. Now my wish has come true with the car M-Sport will provide me.”
Hanninen will team-up with new co-driver Tomi Tuominen in 2013 following long-term navigator Mikko Markkula’s decision to join forces with Andreas Mikkelsen.
“I’ve known Tomi for years,” said Hanninen. “He’s an experienced co-driver and I believe our co-operation will be great.”
Hanninen, 31, is due to contest Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden with M-Sport following his first test in the Fiesta later this month.