John Button, father of Jenson, dies aged 70

2014 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

John Button, father of 2009 world champion Jenson, has died at the age of 70.

Button competed in rallycross events in the seventies before turning his attention to his son’s racing ambitions. He set up a company to build karting engines while Jenson began his ascent of the motor racing ladder.

The younger Button had only been out of karts for two years when he was able to tell his father “Dad, I’m a Formula One driver,” after gaining a surprise promotion to the top flight with Williams.

John Button remained at his son’s side through the highs and lows of his F1 career which culminated in his 2009 world championship triumph and subsequent move to McLaren.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh joined many Formula One figures paying tribute to him: “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.”

“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 One community at large,” added Whitmarsh.

“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.”

2014 F1 season

Browse all 2014 F1 season articles

Image © Brawn

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

54 comments on “John Button, father of Jenson, dies aged 70”

  1. Very sad to hear this. John Button always seemed like one of the most honest people on the paddock and there was something very heartwarming to see him at so many races, supporting his son.

    RIP John. My thoughts are with Jenson and his family..

  2. Deeply saddened. Our thoughts go out to Jenson and all of his family.

    1. indeed. an unwelcome reminder of the mortality of our parents…

  3. All thoughts with JB and the rest of the Button family. Will miss the pink shirt and the quality interviews. He was a great character in the F1 circus and will be missed. January seems to be a month for bad news.

    RIP John Button

  4. Very sad. What a shock to see that headline….out of the blue;

    RIP John…..

  5. Well said Martin. I feel so sorry for Jenson, I don’t think words could describe what he is going through.
    You could see how proud he was. An honest, good man. R.I.P.

  6. Very sad news. Going to miss this guy’s witty remarks and lavish pink shirts in the paddock. You would never see anyone else supporting their lad at races like this man. Worked hard and played hard, just like JB. RIP John.

  7. Very sad news, I loved how positive and supportive this man was. A true father, missed only one race during his sons career. Keep on smiling down on us from up there John!

    RIP John Button (1943-2014)

  8. Why must F1 insist upon maintaining this glut of shocking and very sad news.

    John was the definitive racing dad, supportive and enthusiastic, and one of the members of Jenson’s inner circle to which Jenson owes so much of his excellent performances in recent years to. Combine the humour and cool head of John with the support of a girlfriend like Jessica, and Jenson found himself with a framework that even Hamilton spent most of 2011 envying.

    John, we will miss your humour, pink attire, ever present charm, sharp wit and calm head from the paddock. Rest in peace dear chap.

  9. As a fan, I would see Mr John Button at few F1 races in the McLaren hospitality area. So i dont know how much he will be missed in F1 but I understand this is really a sad news for Jenson and his family. Reports on how he helped with Jenson’s career is really inspirational. Hope Jenson recovers from this. Its a sad loss for him. One vivid memory I have of Mr Button is the excitement he had when Jenson overtook Vettel in the last lap in the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. I could see his joy at that moment..well, now i know why he ll be missed in F1. RIP John Button.

  10. R.I.P John Button. I remember seeing him for the first time in the 2006 Australian GP when Jenson got his second ever pole and led one lap with a Honda. It is sad to see someone well known who you see so often in the television pass away like this. All the best to Jenson and hope that he and his family can recover well and good luck to Jenson for this yeear. I’m sure John Button would have loved to see Jenson win another world title.

  11. This is honestly heartbreaking. So sudden. He always seemed so fit, never did I suspect anything of his ailing health. He was perhaps one of the most(if not the most) prominent fathers in F1, always there, supporting Jenson along the way….Who could ever forget the way he broke out in tears whenever Jenson crossed the finish-line first, the Union Jack wrapped steadily around his shoulders. Such a gentle and loving man, who also raised one hell of a son(If I may say so) and knowing how close Jenson has been to his father. It is honestly gut-wrenching. Bless his soul. May he rest in peace. Praying for the whole family.

  12. What horrible news to read. The F1 paddock will be much poorer for his absence.

    Sympathies with the entire Button family.

  13. This is really saddening news. John Button seemed like such a really emotional, charismatic character, so it’s easy to see where Jenson gets it from. They always looked so close. My thoughts are of course with family and friends.

  14. RIP. My thoughts are with Jenson and his family.

  15. Sad news indeed. condolences to JB and family!

  16. A massive shame. Another brilliant character from the paddock gone. Thoughts with the Button family.

  17. Heartbreaking is the word. Can’t think of many other characters whose presence will be so missed in the F1 paddock. I have so much sympathy for the Button family, as their closeness was so obvious for everyone to see. Hopefully they will take comfort from that strong bond.

  18. This man was a legend. He will be incredibly missed.

    My thoughts to the Button family.

  19. Seemed like a very nice man with a love for racing and even more love for his family.
    Vaya con dios, John Button.

  20. This is awful, tragic news. He was one the first of the “racing dads” I really warmed to and he seemed like a genuine, honest but properly average bloke, the kind of person you could just bump into and have a good chat.

    My condolences to the whole Button family in this difficult time.

  21. Very Very sad news, John Button was such a great personality in the pit lane always had a smile and kind words. RIP all my thoughts and condolences go to the Button family. If there is one thing we can take solace in is that john button was able to see his son go from humble carting to become a F1 Drivers Champion in his lifetime

  22. It was always a joy to see this man laughing it up in the paddock. It’s not difficult to see why he was so popular. He’ll be sorely missed. Rest in peace, John.

  23. Oh dear. Awful news, he will be missed by everyone. My sympathies to all his family.

  24. Oh, man, this is really sad news. He and Jenson were so close and he always seemed like such a loving person. My thoughts are with Jenson and his family.

  25. Rest In Peace John Button. The man of pink shirts! What a character.

  26. Such bad news :/ He was definitely one of the nicest people in the paddock, always looking happy in interviews, also seemingly up for a laugh and you could tell he was a ridiculously proud father to Jenson. You could also see where Jenson got some of his personality from and his sense of humor. RIP John, a great man taken far too soon. Thoughts with his family.

  27. I feel very sad both for Jenson and for John himself. I was always happy to see him in the paddock, with that big smile on his face, and will be sad not to any more. And it must be awful for Jenson right now. All my thoughts go to the Button family.

  28. An awful shock. I always enjoyed it when he popped up on TV, he’d cut right through the self-importance all around him in F1.

    But there are some lovely tributes and stories appearing from racers and writers who knew John, on their blogs and Twitter. I can see he meant much more than just some bland statement about “sincerest condolences” or “my thoughts are with…”

  29. RIP. Terrible news, thoughts go out to Jenson and family.

  30. RIP John.
    Will be missed in the paddock. Very nice and supportive man and father. Always a smile in his face!
    My thoughts go out to Jenson and all of his family.
    Stay strong and have a great season for your daddy!

  31. Wow, he was so young too, for a dead! very sad indeed :(

    1. sorry, sorry… for a dad* :(

  32. Wow, he was so young too, for a dad! very sad indeed :(

  33. Terrible news…rest in peace and condolences to the family… very very sad.sending prayers

  34. Very sad news and so unexpcted. My thoughts are with the Button family.

  35. That comes as sad surprise:( But that moment comes in every man’s life and I believe it will make Jenson even stronger, even more resolved! Strength to Jenson!!!

  36. RIP John Button. See you on the other side.

  37. Terrible news, really.
    My thoughts are with Jenson and his family.

  38. no way…that’s so sad

  39. At least it happened now. It gives Jenson more time to spend with his family, take care of everything, mourn in peace. Better than having it happen on a Friday before a race.

  40. Gonna miss seeing him at the races. A good egg all around. Condolences to the family.

  41. Tragic news, my thoughts go out to Jenson and his family

  42. It’s amazing to look through the reactions, John Button always seemed on tv to be a genuine, easygoing, likable man. I remember Jenson speaking about him with pride, and that seems to shine through too: a man to be proud of knowing. A rare thing in a cutthroat sport.

  43. condolences to Jenson and his family, very sad news.

  44. The brief shots of this man on the telly would always bring a smile to my face. Really saddening news.

  45. Very sad news. Even as an outsider looking in, it was clear that John Button was a great personality in the pitlane who loved his racing in every way and supported Jenson superbly. Condolences to the Button family.

  46. I usually hate it when the tv cameras cut to the wags and family members of the drivers during the races, but I never minded it when the cameras focused on John Button. In my mind he was constantly there with a cheeky grin and a wave to those watching. You would see him on F1 programmes often in the background walking about the paddock, and he always looked like he was having a blast. He will be missed by this F1Fanatic, as he brought a lot of humour and light to what can often be an overly serious and dour place – the F1 paddock.

    I can’t imagine the loss and pain Jenson and the Button family must feel, but my heart goes out to them. Jenson is a true gentleman of F1, I suspect he owes a lot of that to his dad.

  47. Wow that’s sad. He was a nice guy.

  48. My deepest condolences to JB and his Family

  49. My deepest condolences to you and your family JB. I went through the same thing about 18 months ago, nothing can prepare you for it, thinking of you.

  50. So sad news, I will really miss him and his pink shirts in the paddock. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

  51. A very sad news, my thoughts are with Jenson and his family, i really liked Joe Button he is a very nice guy always smiling RIP Joe

  52. Very sad,he was always at the races supporting his son and a real character,I’ll always remember his reaction when Jenson won the world championship,amazing.He will be missed.RIP.
    My thoughts to JB and his family.

Comments are closed.