Artem Severiukhin has apologised for any offence caused after the teenage karting driver gave an apparent Nazi salute on the podium on Sunday, which led to the termination of his racing contract. Despite labelling himself a “fool”, Severiukhin has denied deliberately making the gesture, insisting “there was no support of Nazism or racism” intended by his action. The teenager, who was representing Italy, rather than the country of his birth, due to sanctions placed on Russian athletes following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, made the gesture and laughed as he stood on the podium in Portimao in Portugal during the FIA Karting European Championship. Widely shared footage of the incident led to the FIA launching an investigation into Severiukhin’s “unacceptable conduct,” before Ward Racing, the 15-year-old’s team, announced on Monday that he would no longer race with them. 🤮The Russian racer Artem Severiukhin demonstrates Nazi salute on the podium during the European Junior Karting Championship award ceremony in Portugal. The event is held under the aegis of the International Automobile Federation. pic.twitter.com/jgpIJuLkxv — Toronto Television / Телебачення Торонто (@tvtoront) April 11, 2022 “My name is Artem Severiukhin, and I want to apologise to everyone for what happened yesterday,” Severiukhin said in a video message. “Standing on the podium, I made a gesture that many perceived to be a Nazi salute. It is not true, I have never supported Nazis. “I consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity. “I know I am a fool and I’m ready to be punished, but please believe that there was no intention in my actions. “There was no support of Nazism or racism, there was no desire to offend spectators.” The teenager’s Swedish-owned team had earlier said they were “deeply in shame” over Severiukhin’s actions, which they condemned in the “strongest possible terms”, also criticising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and stating that that Severiukhin’s gesture did not represent the values of the team.