Young kids tend to do stupid things. Some are harmless and innocent to draw a few laughs. However, a teenage kart racer did something that he’ll regret for a long time.
Artem Severiukhin, a 15-year-old Russian kart racer who drives under the Italian flag, won a race in Portugal. During the podium ceremony, Severiukhin made what appeared to be a Nazi salute and laughed. The FIA launched an investigation and soon, Severiukhin was cut by his team, Ward Racing.
Shortly after being fired, Severiukhin took to Instagram to apologize. He also stated that he had no fascist sympathies or support for Nazis. It’s incidents like this that could haunt him for quite some time.
As for his racing career, it has yet remained to be seen what his punishment with the FIA will be. For now, he is a kart racer without a team. Many kart racers eventually go on to race in FIA sanctioned races,including Formula One.
Severiukhin’s dreams of becoming a racecar driver may very well be up in smoke, and it’s likely due to an obscene gesture that no one should ever use, especially racers that are always in the public eye.
Kart racers are among the future in motorsports, including Formula 1 and other sanctioned motorsports leagues such as World Rally Championship (WRC). The reason for Severiukhin to race under the Italian flag is due to sanctions Russia was facing, well before the conflict with Ukraine.
The Russian Federation was suspended from global competition in all sports due to doping allegations that have dated back a few years. As a result, Russian athletes may not compete under their own flag. This explains why Russian athletes have competed under a neutral flag in the past three Olympics.
Former Formula One driver Nikita Mazepin, who is also Russian, raced under a neutral flag in his lone year in the sport. He was let go early this year after his team, Haas F1, terminated his contract. This was in conjunction with the termination of the team’s sponsorship with a Russian-based fertilizer company run by Mazepin’s father.
Russian drivers seem to be finding themselves in trouble these days. Whether it’s by doing a stupid gesture or connections with Russian oligarchs facing global sanctions, this was the last thing Russian competitors needed to see while their country continues to face scrutiny.