Formula One driver Jenson Button has paid an emotional tribute to his father, John, following his death last weekend.

In a series of tweets, the McLaren driver talked of how proud he was of his father, whom he called 'Papa Smurf' and thanked all those who had sent messages. Button said it was "nice to see he touched so many people".

john button

Jenson Button celebrates with father John and girlfriend Jessica Michibata after victory at the 2012 Australian Grand Prix

John Button was found dead at his French Riviera home on Sunday after suffering a heart attack.


A former successful rallycross driver, he quit to focus on his son's career and quickly became a familiar face on the F1 circuit as he proudly cheered Jenson on to success.

When John Button split from his wife Simone, Jenson moved in with his father but the links with his mother and older sisters, Natasha, Samantha and Tanya, were maintained.

As an eight-year-old schoolboy who drove to victory in his first race, Jenson had already told his father he wanted to be a F1 world champion one day. With his father's backing, this dream went on to become a reality.

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  • John Button death

    File photo dated 01/06/10 of Jenson Button (centre), with his parents, John (left), and Simone, after he received an MBE as his father, John, has died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 70.

  • John Button death

    File photo dated 14/03/10 of Jenson Button's father John Button and Jessica Michibata as John has died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 70.

  • Jenson Button, Jessica Michibata, John Button

    McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button, of Britain front centre, sits with his girlfriend Jessica Michibata right, and his father John Button as they react for the cameras after Button's victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Hungaroring circuit outside Budapest, Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Balazs Czagany)

  • John Button, Jessica Michibata

    John Button, father of McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain, jokingly pretends to protect Jenson's girl friend Jessica Michibata, right, from the photographers on the Suzuka Circuit ahead of the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix in Suzuka, central Japan, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

  • F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Race

    SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 18: Jenson Button (R) of Great Britain and Brawn GP celebrates with his father John Button (L) after clinching the F1 World Drivers Championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on October 18, 2009 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

  • F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Race

    SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 18: Rubens Barrichello (L) of Brazil and Brawn GP is embraced by Jenson Buttons father John Button (R) after his son clinched the F1 World Drivers Championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on October 18, 2009 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

  • F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Race

    SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 18: Jenson Button (R) of Great Britain and Brawn GP is congratulated by his father John Button (L) after clinching the F1 World Drivers Championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on October 18, 2009 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

  • Qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix

    MONTREAL, CANADA - JUNE 11: Jenson Button of Great Britain and BAR celebrates getting pole postion with his Dad John Button during Qualifying for the Canadian F1 Grand Prix at the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit on June 11, 2005 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

  • Bahrain F1 Grand Prix

    SAKHIR, BAHRAIN - APRIL 4: Jenson Button of Great Britain and BAR celebrates with his father John and BAR boss Dave Richards after finishing 3rd during the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain Racing Circuit on April 4, 2004 in Sakhir, Bahrain (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

  • Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - United States Grand Prix - Preparation Day - Austin, USA

    (L to R): Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) CEO Formula One Group (FOM) with John Button (GBR).United States Grand Prix, Thursday 15th November 2012. Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA.

  • Jenson Button, Jessica Michibata, John Button

    McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain, in white, celebrates with girlfriend Jessica Michibata, center, his father John, and team members after Button won the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)