Born in the city of Monterrey in north-eastern Mexico in 1991, Esteban Gutierrez began his racing career in karts at the tail end of 2004. Over the next couple of seasons the teenager hinted at his potential star quality with numerous victories in his homeland and an impressive car racing test debut in which he matched the Formula Renault 2000 lap record at the Zacatecas circuit.
In 2007 Gutierrez headed north to compete in Formula BMW USA - his first single-seater championship. Despite his limited experience he finished the season second overall in the standings with four wins and rookie of the year honours, as well as nine pole positions out of a possible 14 - a strong indicator of his natural speed. His achievements earned him a test outing with Mexico’s A1GP team.
The following year Gutierrez crossed the Atlantic for another season of Formula BMW, albeit this time in the F1-supporting European series. Making full use of his experience in the category, he swept to championship glory with an impressive seven wins in 16 races. The success earned him a prize drive with BMW-Sauber which, when he took it in 2009, made him the youngest Mexican ever to drive an F1 car.
Gutierrez’s career lost a little momentum in 2009 when he struggled to ninth in the F3 Euro Series, but he recovered the following season by winning the inaugural GP3 Series title, picking up five wins along the way.
From GP3 it was on to the higher powered GP2 category for 2011, where he chose to stick with ART Grand Prix, the team that had helped him to GP3 success. In an ultra-competitive season he finished a respectable 13th in the points with one win and one third place. Throughout the year he also acted as Sauber’s official test and reserve driver and might have got the chance to deputise for the recovering Sergio Perez in Canada had he been in Montreal instead of Mexico at the time.
For 2012 it was another season of GP2 and another year as Sauber test and reserve driver. This time three wins and four other podiums lifted him to third in the final standings, while he got his first F1 free practice run in India, replacing Sergio Perez for FP1.
In November 2012 Sauber announced that Gutierrez would partner Nico Hulkenberg in the team for 2013. Like the man he replaced - then McLaren-bound Perez - Gutierrez had been a member of Escuderia Telmex throughout his career, a scheme that supports up-and-coming Mexican racers.
His debut F1 season was a tough one. The youngest of five rookies on the grid, Gutierrez initially struggled to get up to speed, particularly in qualifying, but a fine drive to seventh in Japan was among the performances that convinced Sauber to retain him for another season.
The Swiss squad’s 2014 car proved uncompetitive, and like team mate Adrian Sutil, Gutierrez failed to score a point, before moving on at the end of the year to a 2015 test driver role with Ferrari. That in turn led to a new opportunity - an F1 race return with the new, Ferrari-powered Haas team for 2016.