A Russian karting driver has apologised after making what appeared to be a Nazi salute on the podium following a race.
Artem Severiukhin, 15, came first in the 11 to 15 age bracket at the FIA Karting European Championship in Portugal on Sunday.
As he stood on the podium during the post-race ceremony, the teenager beat his chest with his fist and then appeared to perform the salute.
He then laughed after making the gesture, apparently sharing a joke with someone in the crowd.
🤮The Russian racer Artem Severiukhin demonstrates Nazi salute on the podium during the European Junior Karting Championship award ceremony in Portugal. The event is held under the aegis of the International Automobile Federation. pic.twitter.com/jgpIJuLkxv— Toronto Television / Телебачення Торонто (@tvtoront) April 11, 2022
Severiukhin was competing under the Italian flag at the weekend due to the Russian flag and anthem being banned by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He has since apologised for his 'foolish' behaviour, but denied making a Nazi salute.
In a video uploaded on Instagram, he said: "I want to apologise to everyone for what happened at the European Championship go-karting race.
"Standing on the podium, I made a gesture that many perceived to be a Nazi salute. It’s not true, I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity.
"I know I’m a fool and I’m ready to be punished, but please believe that there was no intention in my actions and it was not a support to Nazism."
Ward Racing, his Swedish team, have condemned Severiukhin's actions and plan to terminate his contract in wake of the incident.
"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," the statement reads.
"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 cooperation with Artem Severiukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract."
Featured Image Credit: International Automobile Federation/Instagram
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