John Button, the father of Jenson and formerly a top rallycross driver in his own right, has passed away after a suspected heart attack at his home in France. He had celebrated his 70th birthday in Hungary last year.
A wonderful, outgoing character, it goes without saying that he was Jenson’s number one supporter throughout the latter’s career. John took Jenson through the karting ranks and then attended all but one of his F1 starts, only missing out through illness. He had hundreds of friends up and down the paddock, and not just at McLaren or Jenson’s previous teams.
A familiar face since Jenson’s debut in 2000, his colourful personality sometimes disguised the fact that he was an extremely perceptive observer of the F1 world. His advice and counsel was clearly very useful to his son over the years, and helped to keep Jenson’s feet on the ground.
The astonishingly close father/son relationship was a shining example for people in any walk of life, never mind racing, where ambitious dads don’t always take the right approach.
Few in F1 knew about John’s rallycross exploits, notably with a VW Beetle, and later a Golf. He was one of the leading British drivers of the seventies, regularly featuring on BBC Grandstand, and he even earned a slot on the cover of Autosport.
A great human being and a total one-off, he will be sadly missed. This writer offers his sincere condolences to Jenson, his sisters and the rest of the Button family.