FIA launches 'immediate investigation' into Russian driver Artem Severiukhin's Nazi salute at European event
- Russian driver Artem Severiukhin was participating under an Italian license
- He won round one of the FIA Karting European Championship at Portimao
- His team said they will suspend his contract
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), governing body of motor sports, on Monday said that it is launching an immediate investigation into Russian driver Artem Severiukhin's Nazi salute at a European karting championship event.
Severiukhin, who is 15 years old, appeared to perform a Nazi salute, which is a gesture that was used as a greeting in Nazi Germany, after winning round one of the FIA Karting European Championship at Portimao.
The Russian, competing under an Italian licence, performed the salute whlist the national athem was playing during the podium ceremony. He beat his chest twice before raising an open palm.
"The FIA confirms it has launched an immediate investigation into the unacceptable conduct of Mr Artem Severiukhin that occurred during the podium ceremony for the OK category at Round 1 of the 2022 FIA Karting European Championship at Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal," read a statement on Monday.
"The FIA will communicate shortly on the further steps that will be taken in this case."
Severiukhin's gesture came at a time when Russia's President Vladimir Putin is justifying his invasion of Ukraine as a 'de-Nazification' effort.
The driver, however, denied giving a Nazi salute at all.
"I would like to address everyone about yesterday's situation on the podium. I won the round of the European Championship and was very happy," he was quoted as saying by a Russian automobile federation spokesperson, as per Motorsport.com.
"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."
His team, Ward Racing, have said that they plan to terminate Severiukhin's contract.
"Ward Racing is deeply in shame of the pilot's behaviour which it condemns in the strongest possible terms. Action will promptly be taken accordingly," the team said.