Heikki Kovalainen, 2022

Kovalainen undergoes successful open-heart surgery

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In the round-up: Formula 1 race winner Heikki Kovalainen has undergone surgery for a heart condition.

In brief

Kovalainen has open-heart surgery

Kovalainen says his recent open heart surgery was a success, after he was diagnosed with a heart condition. In a post on social media, the former Renault, McLaren and Caterham driver revealed his surgery in the United States had been successful.

“I was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm at the end of last year,” Kovalainen said. “Basically, a piece of the ascending aorta that was dilated quite a lot.

“I was actually operated on last week in Tampa at the University Hospital, in the heart hospital unit there. There 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 a [scar] forever now under this shirt on my chest. But the surgery went well and we managed to get done exactly what we were planning to do.

“The outlook is quite good. There is an opportunity to make a full recovery and regain full fitness, but of course 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.”

Lewis Hamilton, one of his former team mates, told him: “Get well soon Heikki, praying for you.”

Former Verstappen mechanic moves to Sauber

Max Verstappen’s former number one mechanic Lee ‘Leeroy’ Stevenson will head to the Sauber team, the world champion says. Stevenson posted a video on Instagram last week to announce he was leaving the team.

“I have a very good relationship with Leeroy already from my start at Red Bull from 2016 onwards,” Verstappen said. “He was my number one until the end of 2020, if I’m not mistaken.

“Then he moved into a bit of a different role where I think initially he was a bit more based at the factory. Then he came back to the track and a bit more sharing duties as a chief mechanic. And then he got a great opportunity at Sauber and I don’t blame him for trying something new.

“we’re still good friends. We have shared a lot of great moments together. Sometimes in life, you get opportunities and you maybe go a bit out of your comfort zone. You try something new. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back, right?”

Wickens hospitalised after Nurburgring crash

Former IndyCar driver Robert Wickens has been kept overnight in hospital for observation following a crash in Saturday’s Nurburgring Langstrecken Serie (NLS – previously known as the VLN) season opener at the Nordschleife.

Bryan Herta Autosport, the team running Wickens in his first race on the Nordschleife, confirmed that their driver was “conscious and alert” after being involved in a crash midway through the endurance race and had been taken to a nearby hospital for “precautionary checks”. A subsequent update from the team stated he would remain in hospital overnight, but that “scans are complete and clear”.

Wickens later took to social media to thanks fans for their messages and the hospital staff for their care. “I’m feeling good and will get some rest here under their supervision this weekend,” he said. “I’m eager to get to the track and get back to work with BHA.”

Wickens suffered paralysis when his IndyCar was launched into a fence during the Pocono 500 in 2018.

F1 return is possible – Mazepin

Former Haas F1 driver Nikita Mazepin insists that he has a chance of returning to the grid following an EU court’s decision to overturn sanctions against him put in place following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“After the court’s decision, the chances increased sharply,” he said. “But returning to Formula 1 is not so easy.

“It’s hard to get there, and even harder to get back. But when we first started suing, almost no one believed in success. Therefore, no matter how absurd and funny it may sound now, I believe that my return to Formula 1 is possible. But first we need to achieve the implementation of the court decision.”

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Comment of the day

With Carlos Sainz Jnr once again out-qualifying Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc, An Sionnach expects more from car number 16:

Sainz is looking good. He seems to be able to adapt, which isn’t a skill many in the current grid have displayed. Not enough data to say he’s a Lauda or a Prost, but then you don’t have to be that good to get a result on a grid with so many inconsistent performers.

Surely Leclerc can do better than this? If the poor form continues, Lewis definitely has to beat him next year… and I expect he will.
An Sionnach

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Macleod, Josie Maunders, Bob and Rohnjaymiller!

On this day in motorsport

Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Derek Warwick, Kyalami, 1984
The McLaren drivers scored a one-two and Derek Warwick made his first podium appearance today in 1984
  • 40 years ago today Niki Lauda led a McLaren one-two at Kyalami ahead of team mate Alain Prost, with Derek Warwick third for Renault

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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14 comments on “Kovalainen undergoes successful open-heart surgery”

  1. You write “Tampa” (USA), but I believe Heikki is saying “Tampere” (Finland).

    1. Native Finn here; indeed, Heikki says Tampere. And the video is shot in Helsinki.

  2. Isnt the expression “open chest” surgery?
    NOt sure if there is a comeback once the heart is opened.

    1. Open heart-surgery
      Open-heart surgery

    2. its heart surgery, open and closed are the extent to which the surgery is invasive. Probably referring to the heart lung bypass machine used in open-heart surgery.

    3. I have an opinion
      7th April 2024, 10:03

      The interior of the heart is most definitely accessed surgically, most commonly for treatment of diseased heart valves. Heiki may have had his aortic valve replaced along with his ascending aorta.

    4. It is a confusing name because you are right, open-heart surgery does mean an open chest, whether or not the heart itself needs to be opened, but it is just the term that has been long used. Open-chest surgery would refer to things such lung operations, so they say open heart to show it is specifically heart surgery. They can do things to the heart which does not involve opening the chest, a sort of keyhole surgery between the ribs, which is called thoracotomy.

  3. Mazepin should stop believing any team would hire him anymore, which simply won’t happen anyway.

  4. Nikita 100x increase of 0% is still 0%.

  5. Stories like this always scare me as someone who is roughly the same age.

    If Mazepin ever gets back into F1, I promise I’ll never watch a race again.

  6. RandomMallard
    7th April 2024, 12:15

    Mazepin is extremely unlikely to get back into F1 without his Dad’s money. And my (extremely non-qualified) understanding of the court decision is that if Mazepin starts relying on his Dad’s money again, then he would be back to being an “associate of a listed person” and would be back under sanctions.

    He’s also still subject to a travel ban from a number of European countries, which further significantly decreases any chances of a comeback.

  7. Kovalainen has a better chance of returning to F1 than Mazepin.

    1. As he should have, gulfs of talent between those two!

Comments are closed.