Walter Grubmuller says he feels podiums are a realistic aim as the Austrian teenager heads into his second season of competition in the British F3 International Series.

Grubmuller made his debut in the series last season alongside Marko Asmer in the Hitech line-up, finishing the year in 16th place in the championship at the start of a three-year programme to establish himself as a Formula 3 front-runner.

However, despite team boss David Hayle playing down expectations going into 2008 and insisting that 2009 would be the season when his young star starts to really shine, Grubmuller has emerged as one of the front-runners during winter testing, running near the top of the times at each session held thus far.

Although keen to keep expectations in check for the new season, Grubmuller admitted that he was confident of fighting for podium finishes even if a championship challenge isn't on the cards just yet.

"It was a surprise to be so quick right away in testing but we have kept the momentum going and I am looking forward to it," he told Crash.net. Now everything is in place for me. I know the tracks and I know how things work in British F3; last year was invaluable in terms of experience and that sets me up well for this year.

"At first we thought it might be a disadvantage to not have an experienced driver like Marko anymore, but it doesn't seem to have been that way so far.

"I think we can be fighting at the front and while winning the championship is one thing, podiums should be possible for us and maybe a first win."

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