For the first time in F2 history, a sim racer will graduate to the series and secure himself a drive for a full season.

Turkish Formula 1 Esports Series driver Cem Bolukbasi will be an official FIA Formula 2 (F2) Championship driver for the 2022 season, graduating straight from sim racing into real life professional racing. Starting with the first round in Bahrain on March 19th, 2022, he will be one of 24 drivers on the F2 grid. Bolukbasi will be driving for Czech team Charouz Racing System.

This marks the first time in history that a sim driver has graduated into F2. Bolukbasi qualified for the F1 Esports Series in 2017, racing for Italian outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso — now known in F1 as Scuderia AlphaTauri. He raced for Toro Rosso for four seasons, finishing fifth overall in the 2017 standings.

Outside of sim racing, Bolukbasi also participated in the GT4 European Series' Pro-Am category from 2019 to 2021, racing for Turkish team Borusan Otomotive Motorsport in all three seasons. The now-23 year old driver finished second overall with 192 points in the 2020 season, alongside fellow Turkish driver Yagiz Gedik. Bolukbasi himself notched two GT4 wins in 2020, first in Hungary, then in Spain.

Furthermore, he also participated in the 2021 Formula 3 Asian Championship, driving for BlackArts Racing. Though he scored no wins in the season, he placed ninth overall with 61 points to his name.

A Dream Come True

Cem Bolukbasi got his first taste of F2 in 2021, right after the F1 title decider in Abu Dhabi. It was there where he first tested an F2 car, driving one of the cars operated by Van Amersfoort Racing. "I was in Abu Dhabi in 2017 for F1 Esports as an Esports driver," he said in an interview with F1. "To return after four years testing an F2 car was pretty insane for me, realizing everything. I watched the F1 finale, testing, and then a day later I was driving the F2 car."

In the same interview, Bolukbasi made sure to pay tribute to his fans and supporters from his F1 Esports days. "“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,” he said. “I think it’s also very important to be the first gamer to do this, because it can give people hope."

Bolukbasi will be back in an F2 cockpit on March 2nd — the first day of official F2 testing in Bahrain.

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