Artem Severiukhin is being investigated for the gesture ©Ward Racing

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has begun an investigation after a Russian karting driver appeared to make a Nazi salute on the podium.

Artem Severiukhin thumped his chest twice on the podium after winning the first round of the European Championship in Portugal, before appearing to perform a Nazi salute.

The 15-year-old was then seen laughing following the gesture.

Severiukhin had been competing at the event with an Italian licence, with the FIA having banned Russian drivers due to the ongoing invasion in Ukraine.

The governing body has confirmed it has launched an investigation into Severiukhin’s gesture.

"The FIA confirms 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 Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal," the FIA said.

"The FIA will communicate shortly on the further steps that will be taken in this case."

Severyukin had been competing for the Swedish team Ward Racing at the event, who said they are ashamed of his behaviour.

Ward Racing issued a statement confirming it will terminate Severyukin’s contract.

"The actions of Artem Severyukhin during the award ceremony on April 10, 2022 were exclusively individual and do not represent the views and values of Ward Racing in any manner," a Ward Racing statement read.

"On the contrary, Ward Racing stands with the international community condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and expresses its solidarity with the people suffering because of this unprovoked and horrific attack.

"Since the start of the ongoing war, our firm stance has been demonstrated with 'No War' helmets and stickers.

"In addition, we currently have three Ukrainian families traveling with us because they have no home to return to.

"As Swedish citizens, we are furthermore proud of our country which made the historical decision to send weapons to Ukraine for the fight against the Russian army.

"Ward Racing accordingly condemns the personal actions of pilot Artem Severyukhin 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 codex.

"With this statement, Ward Racing expresses 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 Severyukhin and will proceed with terminating his racing contract."

Severiukhin has posted a video to the Russian social network Telegram, where he claimed he had not intended the gesture.

"I am ready to be punished," Severiukhin was quoted as saying by

"But please believe that there was no intention in my actions.

"There was no support for Nazis.

"Someone saw a bad gesture in my actions, but it's not.

"I just thanked my family, I am Russian, I am from Russia and I stand by my country."

The Russian Automobile Federation says it is "clarifying the circumstances of the incident and the athlete's act, and is also analysing the comments of the parties in connection with this."

"We also report that we consider unacceptable any, even an accidental manifestation of fascism and Nazism in Russian motorsport and among Russian athletes," the organisation said.

"Our further comments on how the incident will be regarded and what measures will be applied to the athlete will follow later, after the meeting of the RAF Sports Council."