We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk

Motor Racing

F1: Jenson Button sends Twitter tribute to 'Papa Smurf' after the death of his father John

The 70-year-old suffered a suspected heart attack on Sunday and the McLaren star has posted an emotional tribute to his late father, in which he thanked everyone for their support

2009 Formula One world champion Jenson Button has taken to Twitter to express his sadness at the passing of his father, John, and to thank those who sent their message of condolences to the Button family.

Button suffered a suspected heart attack on Sunday while at his home on the French Riviera, and a statement released by the driver’s agent confirmed that he was found dead by a friend. He was 70 years old.

 A regular face in the F1 paddock since Jenson’s debut in 2000, John will be fondly remembered as a driving force behind Button’s successful 2009 season with Brawn GP. Taking to his personal Twitter account, the 33-year-old said it was “nice to see he touched so many people”, and that he will “forever be in my heart”.

“Thank you all for your lovely messages about my Dad, it's so nice to see he touched so many people...” Button wrote.

“He was such a big part of my life I'm going to miss him so so much...

“Papa you cannot believe how very proud I feel to be able to call you my Dad. I love you Papa Smurf, you'll forever be in my heart.

“Rest in Peace with the Angels. Your son XXXX.”

Jenson Button tweets.jpg
Button posted an emotional tribute to his late father John on Twitter


The statement releases on Monday 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.”

Button is due to attend the first test session of the new season at the Jerez track in Spain at the end of the month, where he will get to grips with the new McLaren MP4-29 for the first time. He will also come head-to-head with his new teammate Kevin Magnussen, with the youngster replacing Sergio Perez for the 2014 campaign.