Kovalainen provides positive update on heart surgery

Former F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen is recovering after surgery on an ascending aortic aneurysm


Formula 1 race winner and regular rally competitor Heikki Kovalainen has provided a positive update on recent open heart surgery, confirming that he has the potential to make a full recovery.

Kovalainen had recently begun a third motorsport career in the rallying world, competing full-time in the Finnish national championship last year alongside multiple appearances in the World Rally Championship’s Japanese round.

However, after an in-depth but routine physical examination ahead of the 2024 season, doctors found an ascending aerobic aneurysm; Kovalainen elected to pause his motorsport activities to undergo surgery.

In an update on his personal social media channels, the one-time Grand Prix winner indicated the surgery was successful and his initial recovery had gone well.

“I was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm at the end of last year,” explained Kovalainen.

“It’s basically a piece of the ascending aorta that was dilated quite a lot. Obviously that’s the reason why I haven’t been able to join any rallies or any other activities even over the winter. And in the last few months, I’ve been going through with the team of doctors my options. What are we going to do about it? What can be done?

“We decided to go ahead with an operation. And I was actually operated on last week in Tampere University Hospital in the heart hospital unit there. It was a wonderful team of doctors and nurses and assistants that took care of me there. It was an open heart surgery, so I have marks forever now under this shirt on my chest. But the surgery went well.


Many months of recovery lie ahead of Kovalainen – but there's a good chance for him to return to business as usual in the future

“We managed to get done exactly what we were planning to do. So we cut the diseased part of the ascending aorta out and put an artificial graft in place. Everything went well. It was obviously a big operation; I was feeling a bit rough a couple of days after the operation, but things have improved a lot since then. And I’m actually back at home now already recovering. The outlook is quite good.

“There is an opportunity to make a full recovery and regain full fitness. But of course, the time will only tell eventually how it all works out. But so far, the estimation is quite good. So I’m very pleased with that.

“In the meantime, I’m continuing to recover and trying to hopefully get out and little by little increase activities. And the main thing is obviously for the chest bone to give some time for it to heal. And then once that is all done, if things go well, hopefully get back to normal routines.”

Words:Alasdair Lindsay