Gustav Malja: “I’m just focused on performance”

Gustav Malja spoke to The Checkered Flag in the middle of the World Series by Renault weekend at Silverstone, just after finishing sixth in race one. He would go on to finish eighth in the second race on Sunday.

The Strakka Racing driver revealed that he had a ‘quite good’ day at Silverstone on Saturday, qualifying inside the top ten and then securing a top six result in the race, but felt he could have done better, at least in qualifying.

“It’s been quite a good day; I qualified P9 and was P6 in the race, so quite good,” said Malja to The Checkered Flag. “Qualifying was okay, we had good pace but we didn’t really put it together, we had the pace for more than P9 to be higher up the grid around P4 but that’s what it’s about and we just need to make it better.

“I lost two-tenths in the second sector when everybody improved so that was not perfect, so on ideal lap time I was sixth but it could have been better, the pace was better than what we showed but we just need to fine tune.

I had a really good race; overtaking wise I did a lot of overtaking. We struggled a little bit with some drivers who were a bit quicker in the fast corners so they could overtake, but we had quite good pace at least.”

Malja enjoyed a close fight with Jagonya Ayam with Carlin driver Tom Dillmann during the race, with the Swedish driver admitting to enjoying close on-track battles with rivals despite losing the battle with the Frenchman.

“The fight with Tom was tough but fair I’d say, but in the end he came out on top,” revealed Malja. “Down [the straight] before Brooklands we went side-by-side and I came out on top and he lost a bit, but then out of Stowe, on the exit he was much quicker he overtook me.

“He was really quick so fair play to him. But I enjoy those kind of things.”

Malja is eager to fight for another podium finish in the remaining races to go with the one he earned at the Hungaroring, but feels qualifying well for the races is important to be able to challenge for the top three. He also admits he is focused on getting the best performance from the car rather than aiming for specific results.

“I was very excited about the podium in Hungary and I’d be very happy to go there again,” insisted Malja. “I’m fighting for it every race, but its most important to get good qualifying, because with good qualifying anything can happen in the race.

“I’m not really focused on the positions, I’m just focused on performance and driving fast and see how far that takes us.”

Malja has driven one-off race weekends in both the GP2 Series (with Trident) and in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship (with EuroInternational) so far in 2015, and believed both were beneficial for him but for very different reasons.

“The GP2 experience was really good, it was different with the tyres and so on but it was good experience for me,” revealed Malja.

“Formula 3 was more for practicing a street circuit, there really wasn’t anything else to that weekend. I hadn’t been to one before. I think it benefited me at Monaco, its still a different thing but for sure it helped.

“The power is much different [between the F3 and FR3.5 car] but in the end [Pau] was just about the walls and getting a little bit more close to them.”

Malja revealed he has not been thinking on 2016, and is purely focused on making the most of the remaining races of this season, starting next weekend at the Nurburgring.

“At the moment I’m not focused on next year, but at present I’m really happy with World Series and Strakka Racing,” insisted Malja.

“Next is World Series, I have Nurburgring next weekend so that’s what’s going on at the moment, and I’m taking it step-by-step, race-by-race.”