Young Russian karter investigated by FIA for podium salute

A 15-year-old Russian go-karter is being investigated by motor racing’s world governing body after giving an apparent fascist-style salute on the podium at a race in Portugal last weekend .

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement on Monday that it had launched an immediate investigation into Artem Severiukhin’s “unacceptable conduct”.

Video footage showed the youngster, running under an Italian flag due to sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, slapping his chest with a clenched fist before raising his right arm as a gesture. hello then laugh.

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

Footage of the incident was widely shared and condemned on social media.

Ward Racing, the privately owned Swedish team Severiukhin raced for, condemned his actions and said in a statement he was “deeply ashamed” of his “unsportsmanlike” behavior.

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

The website, however, quoted the youngster as saying it was a misunderstanding.

“I won the round of the European Championship and I was very happy about that,” an official from the Russian Automobile Federation quoted him as saying.

“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’m Russian, I am from Russia and I support my country.”

The FIA ​​announced last month that it would continue to allow Russian drivers to compete in its competitions, but not under the country’s flag because no Russian symbol or color can be displayed.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, additional reporting by Catarina Demony, editing by Ken Ferris)

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