Russian karter Artem Severiukhin is facing a mass backlash over a questionable podium gesture at the opening round of the 2022 FIA Karting European Championship in Portugal.
Severiukhin made what appeared to be a Nazi salute while standing atop the podium, before bursting into laughter.
With a ban placed on Russian involvement in motorsport following the Vladimir Putin-led nation's invasion of Ukraine, Severiukhin had been competing via an Italian licence.
The incident has triggered an FIA investigation, while his Ward Racing team has announced it will terminate his contact.
“The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile confirms that it has launched an immediate investigation into the unacceptable conduct of Mr Artem Severiukhin that occurred during the podium ceremony for the OK category at Round 1 of the 2022 FIA Karting European Championship at the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal,” read an FIA statement.
“The FIA will communicate shortly on the further steps that will be taken in this case.”
Ward Racing took to social media to make its stance known.
“Ward Racing…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 behaviour, an unacceptable violation of the ethical and moral sports codex,” read its statement.
“With this statement, Ward Racing expressed 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 Severiukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract.”
Severiukhin has denied the salute was Nazi-inspired and rather just simply celebrations.