Artem Severiukhin, a 15-year-old Russian go-kart driver, is under investigation by international motorsports’ governing body for making what appeared to be a Nazi salute after his victory Sunday in the first round of the FIA Karting European Championship in Portimão, Portugal.
#Russian driver Artyom Severyukhin, competing under the Italian flag at the #European Junior Karting Championship, showed a #Nazi salute at the awards ceremony.— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) April 11, 2022
He competing under the #Italian flag because of the sanctions imposed on #Russia. pic.twitter.com/q4wOGHPsvR
FIA Karting in a statement called the incident “unacceptable” and said it “launched an immediate investigation” into what occurred at the FIA Karting European Championship at Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve. It promised that “further steps that will be taken in this case.”
Severiukhin denied that he was doing anything other than celebrating with family and friends, who were near the podium.
“I would like to address everyone about yesterday’s situation on the podium,” he said via a Russian Automobile Federation spokesman and Motorsport.com. “I won the round of the European Championship and was very happy. I’m from Russia. I thanked the team and my relatives from Russia. Someone saw a bad gesture in my actions, but it’s not. I just thanked them. I am Russian, I am from Russia and I stand by my country.”
Ward Racing, his karting team, planned to end its relationship with him and said on Instagram that it “condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severiukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 in the strongest possible terms, as it considers them a manifestation of unsportsmanlike behavior, an unacceptable violation of the ethical and moral sports code.”
It went on to add that, “on the basis of these considerations, Ward Racing sees no possibility for continued cooperation with Artem Severiukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract.”
The RAF said it was looking into the incident, adding in a statement that it considers “unacceptable any, even an accidental, manifestation of fascism and Nazism in Russian motorsport and among Russian athletes.”