John Button, Jenson Button's father, has died aged 70

The F1 paddock unites in paying tributes to a friend and "a lovely man"

By Sky Sports Online.   Last Updated: 14/01/14 9:24am

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John Button has died aged 70

John Button has died aged 70

The F1 paddock has united in paying tribute to John Button, Jenson's father, who has died at the age of 70.

The 70-year-old was a permanent feature at grands prix from the moment his son made his F1 debut in 2000 and a popular member of the paddock.

A statement released by the driver's agent read: "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. 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."

Having been a successful rallycross driver in his own right in the 1970s, Button Snr was a guiding force behind Jenson's career as the now McLaren driver enjoyed a swift rise up the junior ranks to the top level.

McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh has sent the team's condolences to their driver and his family and described John Button as "not only a great dad, but also a lovely man".

"Speaking on behalf of all at McLaren Mercedes, 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 1 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 1, will join me in sending our heartfelt condolences to Jenson, to the Button family, and to their many friends."

Further tributes to John Button have swiftly arrived from around the paddock:

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