The incredible story of the driver who jumped from video games to professional motorsport

The pilot Cem Bolukbasi is morphing into the motorsport sensation for the start of this season. It is that the young 22-year-old Turkish athlete will race in Formula 2 -second category of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) – after starting in, neither more nor less, video games.

After racing kartings as a child, Bolukbasi made his debut at the age of 19 directly in the Formula One eSports Series, the virtual competition of the official F1 video game. In his first season (2017) with the G2 eSports FA Racing team (linked to Fernando Alonso) came out fifth and achieved a victory and a pole.

Bolukbasi (right) with F1 driver Pierre Gasly (center) in 2018. Photo: Getty Images

And although the next two seasons were not very good results for the Turk (he finished 12th and 21st respectively) it did get noticed in real motorsports. In 2019 – while it was still part of the F1 eSports World Cup – it tested the GT4 European Series and Formula Renault.

In 2020 he achieved second place in the GT4 European Series with the Borusan Otomotiv team and in in the 2021 season he got his place in the Euroformula Open with the Van Amersfoort Racing team (which has had drivers like Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in their ranks) and in Asian F3 with BlackArts Racing.

Bolukbasi will have his great test of fire this 2022 in F2, after be announced by the Charouz team. “I’m looking forward to getting in the car for testing after my first experience with a vintage GP2 car. That’s the closest thing to an F1, and I am totally sure that I will give my 110% to learn to master it and demonstrate my potential as a pilot, “he said.

F2 is the pre-Formula 1 category and serves as a pre-event for each grand prix for the highest category of world motorsport. Pilots like Lando Norris, George Russell, Mick Schumacher and Leclerc himself have jumped from F2 to F1.

Formula 2 Testing in Abu Dhabi - Day Three

Bolukbasi testing in Abu Dhabi in 2021, the same weekend that Verstappen was crowned F1 champion. Photo: Getty Images

And although the Czech team is one of those that fights the lower part of the grid (and surely the Turkish will also be closer to the bottom than to the points during the season), The young Turkish driver will be able to live the same weekends and race the same circuits in which he participated through video games a couple of years ago.

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