For the first time ever, a virtual motor racer has graduated to a permanent seat in the FIA Formula 2 Championship series, with F1 Esports Series graduate Cem Bolukbasi securing a 2022 seat in the Charouz Racing System team.
Bolukbasi began his career in the F1 Esports Series, competing in both sports car and single-seater championships. He will now become the first racer from SIM racing, to make the step up to the F2 series.
“I haven’t really had time to let it sink in,” said the Turkish 23-year-old. “I think the realisation 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.”
Bolukbasi competed in the 2017 and 2018 F1 Esports Series and followed this with races in the 2019 GT4 European Championship and then two full seasons of GT4 racing in 2020 and 2021. In 2021, he also drove in the F3 Asian Championship and later, joined Van Amersfoort Racing in the EuroFormula Open series, winning in Hungary and Spain and finishing the season fifth in the standings.
“I was in Abu Dhabi in 2017 for F1 Esports as an Esports driver,” he said. “To return after four years testing an actual F2 car was pretty insane for me. I watched the F1 finale, testing, and then a day later I was driving the F2 car. I was like a kid living a dream over those five or six days.”
Bolukbasi also paid tribute to his F1 Esports Series background, saying: “If I was never in F1 Esports, I would never have had the chance to get into a real car; I would not be where I am now. I think it is very important to be the first gamer to do this, because if people see that one person can do it, they will believe they can do it as well.”