Kovalainen on the mend after open-heart surgery


One-time Grand Prix winner Heikki Kovalainen is on the road to recovery after undergoing open-heart surgery in Finland.

Kovalainen, 42, was set to defend his Japanese Rally Championship title this season when he was diagnosed with ascending aortic aneurysm, a potentially life-threatening condition where the main artery leaving the heart weakens and bulges.

Despite experiencing no symptoms and living a normal life, the Finnish driver chose to prioritize his health and temporarily step away from his motorsport activities.

In a recent update, Kovalainen shared that the surgery "went well" and he's recuperating at home. This suggests a good chance of a full recovery, potentially allowing him to return to the sport he loves in the future.

“I was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm at the end of last year,” the 2008 Hungarian GP winner explained 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.”

Kovalainen competed in 111 Grands Prix between 2007 and 2013, racing with Renault, McLaren, Lotus and Caterham.

Overall, he scored 1 win, 4 podiums and a total of 105 championship points during his F1 career.

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