Turkey’s newest motorsport star Cem Bolukbasi has had a difficult start to what should have been the most exciting year of his career to date. Making the jump up to Formula 2 this year, Bolukbasi has been impeded by three big crashes that have reduced his opportunities to learn on track. F1 Feeder Series and selected media spoke to Bolukbasi about his progress so far in 2022.
By Tyler Foster
After impressing in his Euroformula Open campaign last year, the 24-year-old made the giant leap straight to Formula 2, signing with Charouz Racing System for 2022. This made him the first esports driver to have made it this far in the formula series ladder.
Supported by a large number of Turkish fans as well as those who followed him from his esports days, Bolukbasi came into this season with the impetus to illustrate that he belonged at these lofty heights of motor racing. Unfortunately, he has experienced a very disrupted 2022, with three separate accidents causing him to miss out on vast amounts of track time.
To begin the year, Bolukbasi took part in the Formula Regional Asian Championship over the winter but missed out on almost the entire campaign after suffering a start-line crash in the final race of the first round. His car was too damaged for him to participate in the second round, and he then decided not to return to the series because he would have been unlikely to earn any Super License points. Nevertheless, the focus for Bolukbasi was on the approaching Formula 2 season, but things didn’t get off to a much better start there either.
Another accident, this time in the practice session of Round 2 in Jeddah, saw him suffer from concussion and subsequently miss the rest of the weekend. He then broke a rib in a separate crash during in-season testing at Barcelona and missed the next round at Imola entirely. It was already going to be a tough challenge for the Turkish driver to step up to F2, but with almost two rounds’ less experience than his rivals, it had now become that much harder.
Speaking to Bolukbasi, F1 Feeder Series asked how these crashes have affected his ability to learn and make progress at this level.
“Crashing is a part of motorsport, but it is unfortunate for us because the two crashes happened close to each other but also because before that, I didn’t really have any big crashes. Abu Dhabi was my first big crash and I missed the race, and then I had to pull out of the championship, and then of course in Jeddah I had to miss two races.”
Starting in Bahrain we had a very good start, much better than expected, and then we had momentum going into Jeddah. The crash reset thatCem Bolukbasi (Charouz Racing System)
“Of course, it hurts the progress because starting in Bahrain we had a very good start, much better than expected, and then we had momentum going into Jeddah. The crash reset that, but we came back in Barcelona and performed well in Monaco. Despite the crashes, I have improved a lot this year in terms of driving better, and I think Monaco was proof of that.”
In Monaco, Bolukbasi qualified 21st but made progress during both races and finished just outside the points in the Feature Race in 11th. This was his best performance of the season to date, but if he is to break his points duck, then surely this weekend in Baku will offer him hope.
Speaking fondly of the circuit and Baku itself, Bolukbasi made clear that this was where he was most looking forward to racing this season. It may be a good omen, especially with the amount of chaos usually seen on the tight streets of the Azerbaijani capital.
Header photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency
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