Ex-F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen must undergo open-heart surgery

Ex-teammate of Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen, must undergo a serious operation

- Free Practice 3, Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team
- Free Practice 3, Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team

Heikki Kovalainen has confirmed that he requires open-heart surgery due to a problem with his aorta.

The former F1 driver has been diagnosed with ascending aortic aneurysm.

It is a condition which means Kovalainen is not suffering any symptoms. But a medical test before a rallying event revealed that he had an issue.

The condition is a bulge in the artery closest to the heart. If untreated it can rupture which would be life-threatening.

Kovalainen, now 42, told Iltalehti: "At the end of last season, I decided to have a thorough physical examination at the doctor.

"The idea was to check that no bigger problem was found, but then this was revealed.

"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."

Kovalainen is now a rally car driver who has put on hold his plans to enter the 2024 Japanese Rally Championship.

From 2007 to 2013 he raced in Formula 1, racking up 112 entries.

The 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix was his sole victory.

He was the teammate of Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2008.

Kovalainen also drove for Renault, Team Lotus, Caterham and Lotus F1.

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