The Russian go-kart driver Artyom Severyukhin caused a scandal: After his victory on Sunday in Portimao, he gave the Hitler salute - and proceded to lough uncontrollably afterwards. Due to the sanctions against Russia and its athletes, Severyukhin is currently flying the Italian flag.
After winning a race of the European karting series in Portimao on Sunday, the 15-year-old beamed on the podium. But then the scandal: The young Russian patted his chest twice and then stretched out his right hand in the Hitler salute!
Even worse: Severyukhin found his action particularly funny. He burst out laughing and could hardly contain himself. FIA Karting in a statement called the incident “unacceptable” and said it “launched an immediate investigation” into what occurred at the FIA Karting European Championship at Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve.
It promised that “further steps that will be taken in this case”. Ward Racing, his karting team, planned to end its relationship with him and said on Instagram that it “condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severiukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 in the strongest possible terms, as it considers them a manifestation of unsportsmanlike behavior, an unacceptable violation of the ethical and moral sports code”.
Severiukhin denied he was doing anything wrong.
In his statement he claims he was adressing his friends and family. “I would like to address everyone about yesterday’s situation on the podium,” he said via a Russian Automobile Federation spokesman and Motorsport.com.
“I won the round of the European Championship and was very happy. 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”.
Now he could face a severe punishment. The European Karting Championship is under the umbrella organization of the FIA, which also hosts Formula 1.