The FIA has launched an immediate investigation following the controversial celebration from Russian karter Artem Severiukhin.
After taking victory in Portimao, in what was the season-opener for the FIA European Karting Championship, Severiukhin’s celebrations on the podium would generate attention around the world.
The 15-year-old Russian competitor, who is competing under an Italian licence, due to the sanctions imposed on Russian athletes, was broadcast thumping his chest and performing what appeared to be the Nazi-linked Roman salute, followed by laughter.
Understandably, this prompted the FIA to open an investigation.
FIA Statement pic.twitter.com/rLIvW21PaK
— FIA (@fia) April 11, 2022
Severiukhin’s team ‘Ward Racing’ has since announced that his contract will be terminated.
As per the PA news agency, Severiukhin would on Monday post a video on the Russian Automobile Federation’s Telegram channel where he said, translated by Championat.ru: “I would like to apologise for what happened yesterday at the European Karting Championship.
“Standing on the podium, I depicted a gesture that many perceived as a Nazi greeting. But that’s not true – I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the most terrible crimes against humanity.
“I can’t explain how everything else happened.
“I know it’s my fault, I know I’m stupid, and I’m ready to be punished. But please understand that I did not support Nazism or fascism with this gesture.”
As quoted by The Race, Severiukhin also explained that the thumping of his chest was inspired by prompts from below the podium, suggesting to him that this was a way of showing gratitude in Italy, the nation which he was representing.
“I was racing under the Italian license, won the race under the Italian flag, and guys below the podium were showing to me that in Italy in such cases it’s customary to beat your chest, around where the heart is, expressing gratitude. I just wanted to do that gesture,” he said.
A statement issues by Ward Racing read: “The actions of Artem Severiukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 were exclusively individual and do not represent the views and values of Ward Racing in any manner.
“On the contrary, Ward Racing stands with the international community condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and expresses its solidarity with the people suffering because of this unprovoked and horrific attack.
“On the basis of these considerations, Ward Racing sees no possibility for continued co-operation with Artem Severiukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract.”