Having started off in karts, Valsecchi quickly made the jump up to single seaters at the earliest opportunity to race in Formula Renault 2.0 (then 2000) Italia at the age of 16. Having stayed in the series for three years and made gradual progress, Valsecchi moved on to Formula Renault 3.5 and finished 10th in the championship in his first season.
His second campaign was less successful, however, as he finished the year in 16th place, but he did win for the first time and add two further podiums. Next was a switch to GP2 in 2008, and after a solid Asia Series he was forced to miss two race meetings in the main series following a big crash at Istanbul which left him with fractured vertebrae. Though he recovered and took his first win with Durango that year, Valsecchi then struggled with both Durango and Barwa Addax in 2009 before a switch to iSport in 2010 paid dividends; he took the GP2 Asia title and finished eighth in the main series with one victory.
He repeated that eighth place in 2011 with Team AirAsia - again winning once - as he got his first taste of Formula One as Caterham (then Team Lotus) test driver. Moving across to reigning champions DAMS last season gave Valsecchi all the tools he needed and he took full advantage to win the GP2 title ahead of Luiz Razia. A day in the Lotus E20 at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test followed, and Valsecchi impressed sufficiently to be handed the third driver role at Lotus for 2013.