Heikki Kovalainen

Formula 1 News: Heikki Kovalainen sidelined by enlarged Aorta (2nd Update)

“I was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm at the end of last year,” Kovalainen said in a social media video.

“It’s a piece of the ascending aorta that has dilated quite a lot. This is obviously the reason why I haven’t been able to join in rallies or any other activities over the winter. Over the last few months, I have been going through, with a team of doctors, my options.

“We decided to have an operation. I was operated on last week at Tampere University Hospital, in the heart unit there. A wonderful team of doctors, nurses and assistants took care of me. It was open-heart surgery, so I have marks forever on my chest. But the surgery went well.

“We managed to do exactly what we set out to do. We cut out the diseased part of the ascending aorta and put an artificial graft in place. Everything went well. It was obviously a big operation. A couple of days after the operation I was feeling a bit rough, but things have improved a lot since then.

“I’m actually back at home and already recovering. The outlook is quite good. There is an opportunity to make a full recovery and regain full fitness, but of course, only time will tell how it all works out. So far, the estimation is pretty good, so I’m very pleased about it.

“In the meantime, I continue to recover and try to hopefully get out and little by little increase my activities. The main thing is obviously that the chest bone has time to heal. And once all of this is done, if things go well, I hope to be able to return to my normal routines. I hope to see you out soon again.”

March 5, 2024 

(GMM) Sad news is emerging from Finland, where former McLaren and Renault driver Heikki Kovalainen will soon undergo life-saving open-heart surgery.

Iltalehti newspaper reports that the 42-year-old former F1 driver, who had since switched over to rallying, has put his career on hold due to the discovery of an enlarged aorta.

“I decided to have a thorough physical examination at the end of last season. And they found this,” Kovalainen confirmed, admitting he is currently banned from doing “any hard physical training”.

“It’s a hereditary disease that I can’t do anything about,” the Finn added. “It’s good that it was discovered now.”

Kovalainen says he may have to undergo open-heart surgery, during which his heart will be briefly stopped.

“It is such a big operation that the risk of the worst always exists,” he admitted. “However, the aorta has expanded so much that the surgical threshold is exceeded.”

He says it’s “sad” that his racing career has been halted for now, given that he intended to defend his title in Japan “with the new Yaris WRC2 car”.

More important, however, is his health.

“The probabilities are on my side,” Kovalainen said. “However, if it happens that I can’t continue racing despite the operation, then so be it.

“My primary goal is to get back to a normal life.”

March 4, 2024 

Former Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen’s racing career is on hold for the time being due to a serious health problem.

A health check-up at the end of last year revealed that he had an enlarged aorta.

“At the end of last season, I decided to have a thorough physical examination at the doctor’s. The idea was to check that no bigger problem was found, but then something like this was revealed,” Kovalainen told Iltalehte.

“Since November, I haven’t been allowed to do any hard physical training,” Kovalainen added.

“It’s a hereditary disease that I can’t do anything about. It’s good that it was discovered now. Usually, this problem is asymptomatic, except when it first occurs. And that’s the last one, Kovalainen refers to the rupture of the aorta and the almost certain death that follows.”

Kovalainen raced in Formula One between 2007 and 2013 for the Renault, McLaren, Team Lotus, Caterham and Lotus F1 teams, scoring a single victory at the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix.

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