A former F1 eSports racer has become a live racer
By Bob Garcia
Turkey’s Cem Bolukbasi has gone from the SIM racetrack to a live one
The next season of Formula 2, the prelude to the premier category of motorsport, will have a surprising new driver on the grid. Cem Bolukbasi will compete with the Charouz Racing System team in 2022. While a new addition to the sport may be common news, what is most striking and unique is that the Turk began his racing career in the eSports space.
Starting in 2017 and continuing through 2019, Bolukbasi participated in the F1 Esports series, the official Formula 1 video game championship, with Toro Rosso. In only his second event with the Italian team, he took victory at Spa-Francorchamps and finished fifth in his first season, the best result he achieved at that stage, as he was 12th and 21st in the following courses.
The 23-year-old driver moves up from the Euroformula Open, where he finished fifth overall with the Van Amersfoort Racing team. In addition to this, the Turk made a Formula Renault Eurocup appearance in 2019 at the Hockenheim circuit. Still, it wasn’t until last season that he enjoyed a full-time seat in both Euroformula and Asian F3.
Before making his Formula 2 debut, Bolukbasi said he will face a “long and demanding year” as he gets to grips with the Dallara F2/18. “I think the realization is kicking in more and more every hour. It was a big dream that has actually happened, so it’s quite difficult to put into words, but it’s very exciting and I’m very happy,” he explained.
The driver began his career in karting but later decided to make the leap to virtual racing with G2 Esports FA Racing, a team related to Fernando Alonso. Later, he signed for Rosso to be in the F1 video game championship. It was not until almost four years ago that he returned to the real asphalt, with Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport.