Like so many successful Formula One drivers before him, Dutchman Frijns began his ascent through the motorsport ranks through the well trodden path of karting, finishing third in the KF2 European Championship in 2008 before moving on to Formula BMW Europe. He finished third in 2009 before securing the title in 2010 for Josef Kaufmann Racing.
A full season in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 followed and he won the title at his first attempt. Another title followed in 2012, Frijns winning the Formula Renault 3.5 championship in his first season in the series for Fortec Motorsport after a third and a seventh place finish in Barcelona was sufficient to net him the title.
The victory meant Frijns was the first driver to win the FR2.0 and FR3.5 championships back-to-back, and the first rookie to win the FR3.5 title since Robert Kubica. His success in World Series by Renault automatically earned him a Red Bull drive at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test in November 2012, while Sauber had already signed him up for a day in its car on account of his impressive performance before he won the championship.
But despite his impressive track record a lack of funds meant his career could have hit the skids after his Word Series success, but Sauber stepped in at the end of 2012 offering him a reserve driver role for 2013. Despite also landing a GP2 drive - and winning early on - a lack of funds meant Frijns was dropped mid-season in one of the more obvious examples of funds having to outweigh talent.