This story is absolute madness and I love every second of it. Cem Bolukbasi is officially the first Formula 1 Esports Driver to become signed by a Formula 2 team.
Cem got his start in 2017 with Formula 1 esports racing. He was always fascinated by Formula 1 and wanted to be an F1 driver. However, due to the lack of funding, he was never able to begin his F1 career in the traditional way. Fast forward to 2017 and he's competing against the best of the best in the F1 esports league.
For those who haven't tried the game, F1 video games are absurdly realistic. You need to know when to brake, when to feather the gas and where to make the perfect turns. Professional F1 drivers use the F1 games to learn tracks better and truly simulate their races. So have a full on insane racing sim, while others simply use their controller. (See Pierre Gasly + Lando Norris below)
Summit1G's home racing sim:
After dominating the esports scene, Cem got his big break when GT4 reached out to him. GT4 is a European racing league with cars that look more similar to Nascar than F1.
Prior to GT4, Cem had ZERO professional racing experience. After reaching with the league for two + a half seasons and gathering 2 wins, he was then signed to Formula 2 team Charouz Racing.
One of the largest barriers to entry for Formula 1 is simply - it comes down to money. For parents to fund their kids through karting (where most pros begin their career), it'll run them roughly tens of thousands of dollars per year. Most families don't have that sort of cash to shell out in hopes their child will become the next Sir Lewis Hamilton.
However, with the emergence of racing simulators and the F1 games, we're seeing a total new avenue to go from average Joe to racing pro within F1. Cem Bolukbasi is pacing the way and I couldn't be rooting more for him to eventually take a Formula 1 seat.
If you wanna see just how realistic the F1 game can be, watch Cem winning the 2017 Esports Seroes Grand Final below: