Esteban caught the racing bug at a young age, influenced by his older brother Andrés, and started karting at the age of 13. Following on from his karting success in Mexico, he stepped up to the Formula BMW USA series in 2007, his first foray into single-seater racing.
He finished second in the Championship and was the Rookie of the Year, helping propel him into the European Championship for the following season. He claimed the title by 26 points and clinched seven wins, six of which were scored consecutively. Esteban rounded out his Formula BMW career with third place in the 2008 World Finals in Mexico City.
Next on the single-seater ladder was the Formula 3 Euro Series, where he picked up two podiums. At the end of 2009, he tested an F1 car for the first time with BMW Sauber as part of his prize for winning the Formula BMW Europe title.