John Button, the father of 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson, today died from a suspected Heart Attack.
The Briton, 70, who was successful in Rallycross before bringing his son Jenson through the motorsport ranks, was found at his home in the French Riviera on Sunday, 12 January.
Button Sr. was a key figure in the success of his son and one of the most notable figures in the paddock. During the 2009 Season he was often interviewed and given extensive screen time, allowing viewers to see his eccentric and endearing personality.
McLaren’s Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said that “[John] was perhaps more devoted to his son than any other driver’s father.” and he is not wrong – John Button attended every single Formula One Race of his son’s career, except for Brazil 2001, when he was ill.
As well as the privilege of seeing his son capture the World Championship in 2009, John himself also had success in motorsport, taking the runner-up trophy in the 1976 RAC British Rallycross Championship. He also owned a Volkswagen dealership in Wiltshire, from which he also raced a Beetle, but this series did not fare so well.
He is a massive part of the Paddock that will be undoubtedly missed sorely, by Jenson, the other teams and drivers that knew him, and even Formula One Rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, with whom he shared a long-term friendship.
“As with most people, I suspect, I was surprised to see that we lost John Button. He is someone that I have known for over 40 years and is one of those people that you always expect to see at a Formula One race. I will certainly miss him.”
It’s hard not to be moved by the passing of this true gentleman, who put so much of his time and money into nurturing his son’s talent.