A Formula 1 driver with the Force India team in 2017 and 2018, Esteban developed with the support of Mercedes AMG F1 until 2019 before returning to the wheel with the Renault F1 Team alongside Daniel Ricciardo for 2020. Considered a young prodigy, Esteban has had to fight constantly to stay successful since his karting debut in 2004. Talent, determination and professionalism are among his great assets.
Esteban, karting has held a special place in your career. Tell us about it.
The years in karting were crucial for me. Of course, that’s where I learned the basics of the driver’s job, everything that was essential for me to succeed in motor sport. It was a very beautiful adventure along with my father. I had to be noticed and win races to be able to continue. The standard was very high among the young Drivers, but I was already very determined, I was still fighting for victory.
What are your best memories in karting?
In seven years of racing, there are a lot of them, but I remember in particular my 2007 season. I was already using number 31! I won the French Minime Championship on a Sodi chassis after winning all the races and scoring the maximum number of points. Pierre Gasly and Anthoine Hubert were racing with me, Charles Leclerc was just starting out.
What do you remember about the FIA Karting Academy Trophy?
I participated in the second season of the Academy Trophy in 2011. I already thought it was a great opportunity to race with Drivers from all over the world, the best of each nation. It’s nice to be selected to defend the colours of your country. The one-design formula is an excellent principle. I was competitive, but the Competition didn’t go as planned after my pole position at Essay and I couldn’t make it happen.
What have been the major milestones in your car racing career to date?
I was in karting until KF3 (Junior) and then took the step directly into Formula Renault 2.0. It wasn’t easy, but I did well. I really got the measure of single-seaters in 2014, when I won the FIA European F3 Championship ahead of Max Verstappen in the Prema Powerteam. I continued with the GP3 Series in 2015 in the colours of ART Grand Prix. It is thanks to these two titles that I was spotted by Mercedes and Toto Wolf and that the doors of F1 were opened. I competed in nine Grand Prix with Manor Racing MRT in 2016, then two seasons with Sahara Force India. I will again be racing in 2020 as a Renault F1 Team member.
What would you say to a young person who dreams of success?
At each stage, you have to appreciate the chance to start a race. Fun is an important element of success. By staying positive, you can create an atmosphere that is conducive to success in your team and surroundings. Of course, you have to be very motivated and not spare your efforts, that’s obvious. But nowadays it is no longer enough to be fast. The general attitude is very important when you get into motor sport. Showing that you are happy to be there, always smiling, with a good image, these points cannot be neglected.
Info FIA Karting / Photo © KSP