Button senior was a driving force in the Brit’s career.
The father of former Formula One world champion and current McLaren driver Jenson Button – John Button – has died aged 70 of a suspected heart attack.
“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 management was quoted by the Telegraph.
“Whilst we await confirmation, initial signs would indicate a suspected heart attack.”
Button senior has been a source of consistently strong support to the driver, who won the Brit’s first and only World Championship to date in 2009.
John enjoyed a successful rallycross career himself in the 1970s and has been ever present in the paddock since Jenson made his Formula One debut in 2000 with Williams.
Affectionately known as the ‘old boy’ or ‘Papa Smurf’ within the sport, this unexpected news has shocked some of the top names in motor racing.
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
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) January 13, 2014
Deeply saddened by the passing of John Button. I’m so sorry @jensonbutton John was such a great man and will be missed by so many. God bless
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) January 13, 2014
Deeply saddened about John Button’s passing, a devoted father & great guy. Our thoughts are with Jenson & his family. http://t.co/c0ReA8GpBd
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) January 13, 2014
Very sad day for formula 1 John Button one of the best person in the paddock lost his life yesterday… http://t.co/8Ig3zmjq2M
— Felipe1Massa (@Felipe1Massa) January 13, 2014
Button junior and senior enjoyed a close relationship and John encouraged Jenson in motor racing ever since go-karting as a child.
When Jenson pulled off a brilliant comeback in Montreal in 2011 to win the Canadian Grand Prix the McLaren man credited his father as being the inspiration behind the success.