Gustav Malja, one of eight rookies to contest all nine rounds of Formula Renault 3.5 in 2015, spoke of his d?but year in the category at the series' final event in Jerez.

A rookie season is perhaps considered the hardest as the newcomers race wheel-to-wheel with those more experienced. Indeed, the top two in the championship this year - Oliver Rowland and Matthieu Vaxiviere - are in their second competitive years in Renault's flagship series.

Speaking to towards the end of his first year, Malja reflected his rookie season, noting that a new championship can bring with it a complex set of challenges.

"It is harder being a rookie as it is all a matter of experience really," he said. "It is difficult both psychologically and physically, sport is about a number of different tactics, it is not easy."

In particular, the Swede spoke of the step up from Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the benefits of remaining under the umbrella of the Renault step-ladder in the early stages of his career. His sentiments come at a time when Renault is set to part ways with the RPM-endorsed FR3.5 for next year, giving the championship with the new moniker Formula 3.5.

For those, like the Swede, who have climbed through the ranks from FR2.0 Eurocup - where he finished 12th in 2014 - to the higher echelons, it can take time to adjust to the new cars. Malja stepped up to the Strakka Racing team after impressive showing in post-season testing last year.

"[The two championships] are definitely connected, they are like big brother and little brother or big sister and little sister," he continued. "It definitely helped prepare me for this as a lot of the tracks are the same."

Although the 19-year-old is among the youngest in the field, he has been rewarded with two podium finishes in Hungary and at the Nurburgring - accounting for two of five top three finishes for the team. In a competitive year for rookies, including F1 juniors Nyck de Vries and Dean Stoneman, Malja says he has acclimatised well to his surroundings.

"Stoneman is the oldest rookie but I still have a lot of respect for him especially after fighting cancer and coming back, it is impressive.

"However, I am closest in age to Nyck and Egor and I would say we have been fairly even. Sometimes they are quicker, sometimes I am but I have sometimes had the upper hand."

Making his final comments about his first season in FR3.5, the teenager noted the hard work of Silverstone-based outfit Strakka Racing. He has partnered with Tio Ellinas for his d?but campaign - the Cypriot is a former GP3 race winner and GP2 competitor in his own right.

"The team has really helped me, they are experienced in FR3.5 which helps, of course.

"I feel it's gone quite well. It's been up and down a little bit but it started off very well. I've had two podiums and two best rookies. I'm ninth in the championship so it's not been too bad overall."

Malja has a total of 69 points to his name with one race remaining.



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