Jenson Button's father, John, dies aged 70
Jenson Button's father, John, has died at the age of 70 from a suspected heart attack.
John was found in his home in the south of France on Sunday. He was a large presence in the paddock having attended the majority of races since Jenson made his debut for Williams in 2000, most recently being part of Button's support team as he races for McLaren.
"It is with great sadness and regret that I can confirm John Button passed away at his home in the South of France on Sunday," a statement from Button's agent read. "Whilst we await confirmation, initial signs would indicate a suspected heart attack. A close friend who was visiting John on Sunday was the first to discover the tragic news.
"John's children Jenson, Natasha, Samantha and Tanya and the rest of the family are clearly devastated and ask for their privacy to be respected during this extremely difficult time."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said John would be "enormously missed" at McLaren.
"I want to say how very sad I was to hear the news of John's passing," Whitmarsh said in a statement. "In my long Formula One career, I've encountered many drivers' fathers, but I think it's safe to say that John was perhaps more devoted to his son than any of them. Ever since Jenson was a boy, racing go-karts, his dad has been at his side, helping him, supporting him, finding the money for the next race.
"As Jenson grew older, and continued to win in cars, still John was always there, his most steadfast helper and supporter. And, even now, in recent years, during which Jenson has become the consummate Formula 1 world champion that he is, the most experienced driver on the Formula 1 grid in fact, still John has been ever-present, as loyal and as loving as ever, a benign and popular member of Jenson's small and intimate entourage.
"This coming season will be Jenson's fifth as a McLaren driver. I believe John has attended every grand prix over the past four seasons, and over that period he's become a unique and, I think it's fair to say, irreplaceable part of the McLaren 'family'. He was not only a great dad, but also a lovely man, and he'll be enormously missed by Jenson, of course, by all at McLaren, and indeed by the Formula 1 community at large.
"I'm sure that everyone at McLaren, and indeed everyone in Formula One, will join me in sending our heartfelt condolences to Jenson, to the Button family, and to their many friends."
My condolences to all the Button family, especially to Jenson . Very sad news. John....a great man, a friend, we will miss him.— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) January 13, 2014