A teenage go-karting champ says a salute he made after winning a race this weekend was not intended to be an homage to Nazis -- and now, he's issuing an apology for the misunderstanding.
Artem Severiukhin -- a 15-year-old Russian racer -- made the gesture while on the podium following the FIA Karting European Championship in Portugal on Sunday ... and many were appalled, believing it was a Nazi salute.
FIA is launching a investigation into the incident where Russian driver Artem Severiukhin (competing under the Italian flag) showed a nazi salute at the World Karting Championship.
But, in a video released on social media on Monday afternoon, Severiukhin sayshe was simply giving thanks to some of his supporters in the crowd with his chest taps and arm wave.
"Standing on the podium, I made a gesture that many perceived as a Nazi salute," Severiukhin said. "It's not true -- I have never supported Nazism and consider it one of the worst crimes against humanity."
Severiukhin added he's sorry for the confusion -- and is ready to accept any punishment that might be headed his way over it all.
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"I know that I'm a fool," he said, "and I'm ready to be punished. But please believe that there was no intention in my actions. There was no support for Nazism or fascism."
Severiukhin's team, Ward Racing, has already terminated its contract with the driver ... and FIA has said it's investigating the matter.