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12th Apr 2022

15-year-old Russian karting driver apologises for ‘unacceptable gesture’

Callum Boyle

Russian karting driver

Artem Severiukhin appeared to perform a Nazi salute 

A 15-year-old Russian karting driver has apologised for the ‘confusion’ surrounding a gesture he performed after winning the FIA Karting European Championship in Portugal on Sunday.

Artem Severiukhin came first in the 11-15 age bracket and was celebrating his win on the podium when he appeared to gesture a Nazi salute before laughing and smiling at members of the crowd.

Ward Racing have terminated his contract

The action left people shocked and the FIA have already confirmed they are investigating the incident, while Severiukhin’s team, Ward Racing, have revealed they plan to terminate his contract.

A statement released on Monday said: “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 actions of Artem Severyukhin 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.

“Ward Racing accordingly condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severyukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 in the strongest possible terms, as it considers them a manifestation of unsportsmanlike behaviour, an unacceptable violation of the ethical and moral sports codex.

“With this statement, Ward Racing expresses its opinion, as well as the opinion of all athletes and staff of the Ward Racing team. On the basis of these considerations, Ward Racing sees no possibility for continued cooperation with Artem Severyukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract.”

Severiukhin’s apology

Severiukhin has since publicly responded for the first time and apologised. However, he stressed that people have misinterpreted the gesture and that he was instead tapping his chest and waving to the crowd.

“Standing on the podium, I made a gesture that many perceived as a Nazi salute,” Severiukhin said. “It’s not true – I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity.”

The young driver admitted that he can understand the anger felt by people and is prepared to accept any punishment that comes his way.

“I know that I’m a fool and I’m ready to be punished,” he said.

“But please believe that there was no intention in my actions. There was no support for Nazism or fascism.”

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