Cem Bolukbasi will graduate from Formula 2 into the top level of single-seater racing this year, having secured a seat in Japan’s Super Formula series.
The 25-year-old is the first ever Turk to achieve the feat, with Jason Tahincioglu having previously got closest after doing a Formula 1 demo at the Turkish Grand Prix and then spending several years racing in GP2 and testing in Superleague Formula.
He will drive for the reborn TGM Grand Prix team, which has come out of the ashes of Team Goh. Servus Japan ran Goh’s SF operation and wanted to main in the series after losing the Red Bull backing its cars previously had.
Bolukbasi headed to Japan for the first time last December to drive for Servus in the official post-season test, at a time when the squad had no name or paintwork on its cars, and this January it confirmed its presence on the 2023 SF grid under a new name but with most of the same personnel as before.
Having starred in motocross and mini karting as a youngster, Bolukbasi then established himself as a sim racing star and drove for McLaren and Toro Rosso in F1’s official Esports series before racing a car for the first time in 2019 in European GT4.
Later that year he made his single-seater debut in the Formula Regional-spec Formula Renault Eurocup, and in 2020 was FR3.5 Esports champion while continuing in European GT4 where over 10 rounds in three years he claimed an overall pole position and podium while sharing a Pro-Am class car.
For 2021 he decided to commit to single-seaters full-time, and joined the FRegional Asian championship with BlackArts Racing. He was the top rookie in two races and was ninth in the standings, and later in the year decided he was ready to step up to a Formula 3-level car.
Bolukbasi joined Van Amersfoort Racing for five Euroformula rounds, and despite his inexperience was able to win on debut and end his season with another win and a maiden pole position to come fifth in the standings.
His second year of single-seater racing began in FRAC, but he only did one round and suffered a scary crash he was lucky to walk away from. The next step was Formula 2, but the move up with Charouz Racing System did not go to plan.
A crash in Jeddah meant he missed the races there, then another crash at an in-season test led to him missing the Imola round. In the end he completed eight of the 2022 season’s 14 rounds before losing his seat due to financial issues he had with Charouz.
Bolukbasi’s SF car will be adorned with ‘#PrayForTurkiye’ branding as his home country recovers from a set of earthquakes last month that have claimed the lives of thousands of people.