Brawn GP Complete First Full Day in Barcelona


Date Monday 9 March
Track Circuit de Catalunya
Driver Jenson Button

No of Laps 82 laps
Best Lap Time 01:21.140
Kilometres Covered 382km
Track Length 4.655km

Weather Cool
Ambient Temperature Maximum 14°C
Track Temperature Maximum 27°C

The Brawn GP Formula One Team’s 2009 car, the BGP 001, made its full track debut at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain today following an initial shakedown at Silverstone, UK on 6 March.

Taking to the track to participate in the group test session, the BGP 001 showed encouraging reliability and pace as the team intensifies its preparations for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 29 March. With only seven days of testing between now and the first race, the team’s test programme has been carefully planned to ensure a balance between reliability checks and improving the overall performance of the car.

Driving responsibilities over the four-day test will be shared by the team’s race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. After shaking down the car at Silverstone, Jenson had the opportunity to evaluate the car on a full Grand Prix circuit for the first time today. In addition to completing a reliability and set-up programme with the new chassis, he worked through new tyre evaluations using the Bridgestone Potenza slicks and completed a race start simulation.

Jenson completed 82 laps over the course of the day and set the fourth fastest time overall. Team-mate Rubens will join the Brawn GP team in Barcelona tomorrow to take over the BGP 001 car from Jenson.

“It has been a good first day in the BGP 001 with our new team, Brawn GP. I’d like to start by thanking everyone at the team for all the hard work that has contributed to getting us here today. We have enjoyed a positive opening day of running at our first test and achieved a total of 82 laps, which we are all very pleased with. We did experience a problem with the gearbox late in the day but we knew we might face some reliability issues in view of our lack of testing. Fortunately, it’s a minor problem that is easily addressed. It’s early days yet but generally it has been a positive start to our pre-season preparations.”

RESULTS (All timings are unofficial)

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:20.338 96
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:20.908 81
3. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:20.937 121
4. Jenson Button Brawn GP 1:21.140 82
5. Nelson Piquet Renault 1:21.662 126
6. Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:22.158 86
7. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:22.246 117
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:22.452 129
9. Kazuki Nakajima Williams 1:22.813 111
10. Heikki Kovalainen McLaren 1:22.948 90


Today’s Tweats on Twitter from Towcester News

Todays Tweats on Twitter from TowcesterNews

18:28 Today’s Tweats on Twitter from Towcester News: Todays Tweats on Twitter from TowcesterNews
18:27 Today’s T.. #

20:05 Time for a beer I think #

20:30 [Local News] Rotary Young Leaders Course: <img alt="Rotary looking for Young Leaders" height="771" src="… #

20:30 [What’s On?] Towcester Scout Hall Preschool Jumble Sale: <p><br /><br /&g.. #

20:58 [Local News] Support Famous Towcester Artist By Voting: <p class="image-left"><img alt="Val.. #

21:29 [Local News] Dinah Holley RIP: <p class="image-left"><img alt="Dinah Holley some years ago… #

21:29 [Clubs & Organisations] The Towcester Strollers: <p class="image-left"><img alt="Towces.. #

21:37 @iGalway ah sir you are too kind #

21:40 @shedworking wow thank you, been in north Norfolk all weekend, no real tweats other than on the marches – many thanks. #followfriday #

21:57 Back in circulation #

21:57 Gosh North Norfolk is stunning #

22:30 [Sport] Towcestrians Suffer Last Gasp Penalty: <img alt="Towcestrians" height="103" src="../images/imgsto.. #

22:44 Long weekend, time for bed I think #

22:49 When will we get the new Twitter Search look in the UK #

08:54 Happy Birthday Lilly – four today #

09:12 @stephenfry indeedp #

09:32 Finally at my desk #

09:32 Bright and sunny, but quite cold and windy – actually very nice #

09:58 [Local News] Charity Tea Dance Is Biggest Yet: <span class="image-left"><img alt="Rocky and.. #

09:58 [Recipe of the Week] Yummy Celeriac, Apple & Fennel Bake: <p><img alt="Recipe of the We.. #

10:12 @PeterBestel Shall do, and I guess Happy Birthday to you too! #

10:13 @spencemnl fabulous went to Norfolk, crabbing, kite flying, walking, digging sandcastles you name it… #

10:14 @shedworking thank you, I think there may be a shed party on the cards later in the week! #

10:30 Charity Tea Dance is the Biggest Yet: The Towcester Tearooms Charity Tea Dance, now in its fourth year, was held.. #

10:30 Update to Vulcan Story: WE’VE DONE IT!!
I’ve just heard that the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) and.. #

11:03 [What’s On?] Towcester Farmer’s Market This Friday: <p><img alt="Farmers Market 2nd Friday .. #

11:03 Towcester Farmer’s Market this Friday: Farmers Market 2nd Friday of the Month in Towcester on Richmond Roa.. #

11:35 Wind seems to be getting stronger #

12:29 Lunchtime I think #

13:14 Tom – welcome aboard! #

13:35 Just had some Birthday cake – fab #

13:39 @NitaJoy very good how are you today? #

14:03 [Reviews & Features] Cash Is No Longer King: <p> </p><p class="i.. #

14:16 Becoming cloudy, looks like we might get a drop or two #

14:26 @wcs_ltd done #

14:33 @jasew Absolutely – Brawn is doing sterling work – Go Russ, Go Jenson #

14:33 [What’s On?] Silverstone Half Marathon: <p><img alt="Silverstone Half Marathon" height="121.. #

14:34 Silverstone Half Marathon this weekend, lets hope the wind drops! #

14:35 @RichardOsborne I hear Ping might do that #

14:36 @Towcestertiles ah, that’s the way #

14:49 @jasew exactly – although the grapevine tells me that Red Bull may be the ones to watch this year #

15:01 Cash is no longer king: Please do not hesitate to contact Andy Betts at Towcester Financial Planning to discuss .. #

15:01 PSP – Field 25 at Silverstone Half Marathon: PSP – getting involved On Sunday 15th March the adidas Silverstone .. #

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PSP – Field 25 at Silverstone Half Marathon

PSP – getting involved

On Sunday 15th March the adidas Silverstone half marathon is being held at the Silverstone Motor Racing circuit near Towcester.

This race is a good practice run for those taking part in the London Marathon, but is also open to anyone wanting to run a half marathon in its own right; we are really pleased that over 25 runners will be joining in on behalf of The PSP Association. Following the race the PSP team is invited to the PSP offices in Towcester for lunch, to meet other PSP runners and the PSP events team.

Amongst the PSP team running in the Silverstone half marathon is a representative from ipc Magazines (PSP is their charity of the year), a team of five runners representing the Le Hellidu family and a member of the Koe family, the son of Michael and Sara Koe who established The PSP Association.

We look forward to welcoming our PSP team to the adidas Silverstone half marathon running in support of The PSP Association.

Please contact Alan Berry on 01327 322419 or email

Cash is no longer king

Please do not hesitate to contact Andy Betts at Towcester Financial Planning to discuss any aspect of your financial affairs by e-mailing, or visiting, or call 01327 354035.

Andy Betts of local financial advisors, Towcester Financial Planning writes…

This weekly Briefing Note aims to pick out some of the key financial and economic issues touched on in the press over recent days, and from time to time includes the views of some of our independent fund managers.
Scepticism remains

A growing scepticism over policymakers’ responses to the economic downturn, coupled with continued negativity within the financial sector, weighed heavily on markets last week, with all of the major equity indices finishing the week down. After announcing the biggest quarterly loss in US corporate history, the struggling insurer AIG had to once again go cap in hand to the US taxpayer for a further bailout and the UK insurer Aviva saw its share price fall sharply as it announced worse than expected losses for 2008. The FTSE 100 finished the week down 7.8%, its fourth successive weekly decline. Wolseley fell sharply following its announcement of plans to raise £1bn through a rights issue and share placing. General weakness within financial stocks pushed the S&P 500 to a twelve year low, down 7.3% on the week, as General Motors saw its share price fall, with the technology sector also coming under increased pressure. The FTSE Eurofirst index reached its lowest point in its short twelve year history, as the insurance and banking sectors came under further pressure. However, there was a little respite as oil and gas stocks outperformed the wider market. Japan fared little better with the benchmark index falling by 5.2% to close at a record 26 year low. In currency markets the dollar held up well for most of the week as the general weakness in equity markets reinforced its status as a safe haven, however this position weakened on Friday following the worse than expected US employment report.
Into the unknown

This coming week will see the Bank of England (BoE) take a step into uncharted waters as it moves a step closer to the first stage of its quantitative easing plan. The Financial Times reported that Paul Fisher, the Bank’s newly appointed executive, has made it clear that the initial decision to expand the money

supply by buying up £75bn in government bonds might just be one of the boldest initiatives in the central bank’s history. Should it be necessary, the Bank is prepared to buy even more gilts to ensure that commercial banks will use the money they receive to once again begin lending to the private sector. Since the widely anticipated announcement was made last Thursday, yields on the benchmark 10 year gilt have fallen by 53 basis points to 3.07% – the biggest fall since the IRA bombed the Baltic Exchange in 1992. Central banks across the world will be keeping tabs on the scheme as they ponder their next steps, with the highly cautious European Central Bank considering the possibility of using alternative methods to interest rate cuts to stimulate demand and US Federal Reserve also considering taking the step of buying its own Treasuries.

The article however went on to report that quantitative easing is not without its risks, and whilst these first steps have reduced yields on government bonds, the real questions will be asked, and answered, over the coming weeks and months. With little scope left for further cuts in the base rate, the BoE is left with no other weapons at its disposal. The real question now has become not so much will it work, but how much extra money do we need to print in order to stimulate lending? Mr Fisher stressed that the bank has no intention of making the same mistake that Japan made between 2001 and 2006, during which the money in circulation was increased by 74%, however even this was not sufficient to stimulate demand and revive a languishing economy. In contrast, the BoE aims to deliver its stimulus in a much shorter period of time, with it being set to increase the monetary base by as much as 80% in the next three months.

The first big test will come on Wednesday when the BoE will launch the scheme by buying £2bn of government bonds, which is likely to drive capital prices higher, precisely because the Bank is committed to buying such a large amount is a short period of time. For this reason, the Bank has decided to maintain its “reverse auction”, whereby investors are the sellers rather than the buyers, and has also agreed to buy a certain amount of gilts at what are called “non competitive prices”. This will allow insurance companies, pension funds and fund managers to be offered fixed prices, rather than risking selling their securities too cheaply. If the auction is successful, there will be further bi-weekly auctions over the next 3 months, until the full £75bn has been released.
Cash is no longer king

Last week saw the Bank of England cut interest rates for the 6th consecutive month to take the official bank rate to an all-time low of 0.5%. The Mail on Sunday reported that tens of thousands of homeowners will enjoy interest-free mortgages from next month as those on Tracker mortgages have gradually seen their repayments fall over the last six months. However, borrowers who took out fixed rate deals as little as 18 months ago could be trapped on rates of as much as 6.5%. A third of new borrowers decide on a Tracker mortgage, compared with 16% percent just over two years ago, however the deals on offer are now far less attractive as banks strive to restore their profit margins. At this point 12 months ago a borrower could get a three year deal at 0.06% percent below the base rate, however even the best deals available now are significantly in excess of the base rate.

Whilst this may be good news for some, many savers are beginning to feel the pinch as they see the returns on their savings accounts slowly dwindle. The Independent pointed out that the average savings account now pays considerably less than 1%, and whilst astute savers could have been earning more than £200 a month gross on an investment of £50,000 as little as a year ago, they will struggle to get half of that now and may be forced to begin drawing down on capital. However, the article went on to point out that, despite the FTSE 100 index approaching its March 2003 low last week, this has pushed the dividends on equities to increasingly attractive levels. The Times ran a similar article which listed alternatives to deposits in order of risk. Gilts were offered as the first alternative, however the deepening financial crisis has led to increased demand within the sector and current yields are at record lows. Corporate Bonds, debt issued by companies looking to raise capital, were listed as the second alternative, and went on to highlight the Invesco Perpetual Corporate Bond fund, managed by Paul Read and Paul Causer, who also manage the St. James’s Place Corporate Bond funds, as a way of diversifying risk. Fears that companies will be unable to meet their interest payments has sent yields soaring, however many feel that these fears are overblown and that there are attractive opportunities out there, especially among investment grade debt. The third option was to invest into income-paying shares. The income yield, the percentage of a company’s share price paid out as dividends over the year, is becoming increasingly attractive for many investors. The paper went on to say that investors should stick to companies that have strong balance sheets, such as Vodafone, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and AstraZeneca, all of which are yielding more than 5%. The Times also pointed out that for most investors the easiest way to get access is through equity income funds, and investors should consider a spread of risk, including exposure to corporate bonds as well as equities.

The Independent ran an article on how the last month has seen vast amounts withdrawn from banks and building societies, as investors go in search of more competitive returns. Many have been looking at the more exotic asset classes, however one sector seeing significant inflows is Corporate Bonds. As institutions have been forced to issue bonds to raise capital, this flooding of the market has seen yields on investment grade debt increase to between 5 and 7 percent. Whilst most commentators accept that defaults (companies failing to pay the interest on capital at maturity) will increase, the bond market is currently reflecting assumed default levels greater than the Great Depression and to many this is exaggerating the risk. A well managed portfolio is an obvious way to diversify the risk as well as offer a more attractive return than cash for those willing to take on a little more risk.
A good time to plan for the future?

The Times ran an article on why now could be a good time to consider making plans to save on Inheritance Tax. Since both property and equity markets have fallen over the last year and a half, almost £1bn has been wiped of the value of people’s estates, however despite this the nil rate threshold is set to increase to £325,000 on the 6 April this year. The article explained that each year taxpayers waste as much as £190m on unnecessary Inheritance Tax payments, however the current climate presents the ideal opportunity for those looking to avoid the hefty 40% tax on their estates. Whilst there is no guarantee that asset prices will increase, it now appears to be an ideal time to consider making plans. Whilst many may have seen the value of their estates fall, this could mean that they can make plans to gift a considerably larger part of their estate which could result in a further saving.

Towcester Farmer’s Market this Friday

Towcester Farmer's Market every Second Friday

Towcester Farmer's Market every Second Friday

Farmers Market 2nd Friday of the Month in Towcester on Richmond Road car park behind Waitrose.

Run by Towcester and District Lions Club all profits go back directly into local good causes.

Update to Vulcan Story


I’ve just heard that the Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) and Club, at virtually the last minute today, have reached our £1m target in pledges, which will keep our beloved Delta Lady XH 558 flying through 2009 (and on British soil), and she WILL be at several Air Displays (24 scheduled appearances so far) during the year, starting in May.

Over the next few weeks, all those pledged funds will be called in and hopefully converted into cash! We understand that not everybody who made a pledge will necessarily be able to deliver on their pledge in these straitened times, if their own economic circumstances have changed, or for a variety of other good reasons, but the Trust factored this likelihood into their calculations when setting the target at £1million.

The last few days have been absolutely nail-biting for us members of the VTST Club and supporters and Friends of the Trust as the pledges rolled in. I’ll try to cobble something up for your newsletter, to thank all those wonderful people who made a pledge in response to our Appeal, once I’ve pulled myself together again (!), but I’ll need to do a bit more research with the Club and Trust etc to ensure accuracy of any statements!

We don’t have a TV at home here, but I have just been passed this link, which you might like to take a glance at (if you can spare a couple of minutes):

Charity Tea Dance is the Biggest Yet

Rocky and Barbara Cairns

Rocky and Barbara Cairns

The Towcester Tearooms Charity Tea Dance, now in its fourth year, was held at the Towcester Town Hall on Sunday and as in previous years it surpassed expectations. Hosted by the owners Sharon and Tony McMurray, this years event raised an incredible £1,000 through ticket sales and a raffle on the day.

Last years event saw 80 people attend, this year Sharon and Tony were overwhelmed when they counted 115 people through the door. In addition to the Cream Teas and a Raffle with over 30 prizes, those attending were treated to a Salsa demonstration. This was given by Barabara Cairns, of Towcester retailer Drop Dead Gorgeous, and her partner Rocky.

Sharon, a member of the IDTA (International Dance Teachers Association) said “we decorated the town hall in the blue and green of The Alzheimer’s Society and MacMillan Cancer Support, to whom all funds raised in 2009 will be donated. There were Banners, balloons, and the great sound of people enjoying themselves”.

Tony said “each time this event grows in terms of its size and we continue to be amazed by the generosity of so many. To our suppliers who provided the scones and jam, to Floral Art for the Helium and to the local people and businesses who provided some fabulous raffle prizes worth over £200”.

Sharon added, “a number of people commented as to whether we would consider holding such a successful and enjoyable event more often. We have been thinking about running the event twice a year and a Charity tea Dance in March and October seems a popular choice”.

Sharon and Tony’s next fundraising event will be at the Towcester May Day Fayre on the Recreation Ground in Towcester. They have teamed up with world famous Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and plan to sell them to the Towcester public, with all profits going towards this years fundraising which now stands at just over £2,000.

The Tea Dance on Sunday is one of a series of events culminating in Tony and seven local challengers cycling from Lands End to John-O-Groats this summer. Five of the team were in attendance at the Tea Dance and those wishing to donate to the groups fundraising efforts can complete a sponsor form at the Towcester Tearooms, or logon and give at the following secure fundraising website