Kovalainen to undergo life-saving open-heart surgery

Tue, 5 March 2024, 08:00

Mar.5 (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.”

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