Artem Severiukhin under investigation by FIA

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Artem Severiukhin under investigation by FIA

Artem Severiukhin is under investigation by International Automobile Federation (FIA) after the 15-year-old Russian go-karter appeared to make a Nazi salute on the podium at a race in Portugal last weekend.

He has already apologised for being “a fool’ on Monday and denied any fascist sympathies.

Motorsport’s world governing body, FIA, said in a statement it has launched an immediate investigation into “unacceptable conduct” by Artem Severiukhin.

The Russians’ Swedish team has also announced his contract termination.

Video footage showed the youngster, racing under an Italian flag due to sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, tapping his chest with a clenched fist before raising his right arm in salute and then laughing.

Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport described the gesture, made while the Italian anthem was played after the Russian won the opening round of the European championship OK category in Portimao, as a Roman salute.

The film of the incident was widely circulated and condemned on social media.

Ward Racing, his team, said in a statement it was “deeply in shame” at his ‘unsportsmanlike’ behaviour.

“Ward Racing sees no possibility for continued cooperation with Artem Severiukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract,” the team added.

The youngster later posted video messages in English and Russian on his Instagram account.

“I want to apologise to everyone for what happened yesterday,” he said.

“Standing on the podium I made a gesture that many perceived as a Nazi salute. This is not true. I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity.”

Severiukhin said he had “just wanted to make a gesture” to show gratitude and could not explain everything else that happened.

“I know that I am a fool and I’m ready to be punished but please believe that there was no intention in my actions, there was no support for Nazism or Fascism. There was no desire to offend spectators, fans, athletes or the team.”

The FIA, which is also Formula One’s governing body, announced last month it would continue to allow individual Russian drivers to take part in its competitions but not under the country’s flag as no Russian symbols or colours can be displayed.

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