McLaren leads tributes to John Button


McLaren has led the tributes following news of the death of John Button, father of 2009 Formula One World Champion, Jenson Button.

Button, who turned seventy last year, is understood to have died following a heart attack at his home on the French Riviera.

Among the first to pay tribute to Button, who has overseen Jenson's career from his first outing in a kart right through to the present day, was Martin Whitmarsh at McLaren.

"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," he wrote 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."

Another moving tribute came from Former FIA Medical Delegate, Gary Hartstein, who wrote on his blog:

"John Button was a man who got so many things right. John raised a son who has kept his head firmly on his shoulders despite the mega-stardom that his career has brought. I remember checking in at the Suzuka Circuit hotel next to John and Jenson. John insisted there be an iron in Jenson’s room. I was a bit surprised, and John saw the quizzical look on my face. “He irons his own shirts man, and he always will”, he told me. Jenson just smiled. It’s not easy to raise a talented child, and even harder to raise him or her balanced and healthy and good. John made that look easy.

"Rather than try to (micro)manage Jenson’s career, John stepped back, and clearly spent the last bunch of years pinching himself. He thoroughly loved the life that Jenson’s success brought him, but never took it as HIS success. He was humble, full of joy, and a true bon vivant."

"We're devastated to hear the tragic news about 'Papa Smurf'," Tweeted Mercedes, the team that rose from the ashes of Brawn, with whom Button won the 2009 title. "Our hearts go out to @JensonButton, his family & friends. We have so many memories of John's love of life from his years with the team in Brackley. He will be greatly missed."

Whilst other teams and drivers take to Twitter to echo the sentiments of Whitmarsh, Hartstein and Mercedes, perhaps one should look to the plaque in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral where its architect Sir Christopher Wren is buried. It reads: "If you seek his monument - look around you".

In other words, perhaps the best way to remember John Button is to look at his son... possibly one of the finest ambassadors the sport has ever had, a credit to his sport, his country and his father.

At this sad time, Pitpass and its readers send their sincere condolences to Jenson and his family.

Chris Balfe

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 13/01/2014
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