Button: It's going to be emotional

Wednesday 12-March-2014 10:02

Emotions will certainly be running high for Jenson Button at the Australian GP this weekend as he returns to the grid for the first time since the death of his father John.

Having attended most of his son's races since he made his debut back in 2006, Button senior was a well-known and very popular figure in the Formula One paddock.

But Papa Smurf, as he was fondly known as, won't be around to cheer his son on at Albert Park this weekend after he died in January of a suspected heart-attack at the age of 70.

Naturally it has taken Jenson a while to open up about the death of his biggest fan, and he knows it won't be easy whatever the outcome is when the chequered flag comes out on Sunday.

"At the grand prix, obviously I won't be alone," he told The Telegraph. "I'll have all my family and friends around me, which is going to help a lot. It's still going to be unbelievably difficult, whether we have a good race or a bad race. Even with all those people there, whatever happens it's going to be tough. Whether I liked it or not, he was always the last person who gave me a high five or a cuddle before I got into the car. I'm going to miss that a lot.

"If I make the podium, it will be unbelievably emotional. And if it all turns to s*** and we have a crap race, it will also be emotional because he's not there to pick me up.

"There were always those times when you had a bad race and he would come in and put it into perspective. That would annoy me in some way, because I knew he was right, but when your dad's trying to tell you something when you're in a bad mood it's always difficult. It's going to be a very emotional weekend. Not the only one this year."

The weeks since his father's passing has been difficult for Button and his family, but the support they have received from friends, fans and the F1 community has helped.

"It's been a pretty strange couple of months," the 2009 World Champion said. "I would say horrific, but in certain ways it's been nice - the messages of condolence and people's thoughts about my father, things I never even knew about him.

"It's been very special in that way and to see how many people he has touched. When you're busy testing, and things like that, you get on with your business and you can have a laugh, you can have a joke.

"Somebody wrote me a nice message saying: 'Everyone else's lives will go back to normal, but it won't for you, but never feel guilty about having a laugh or a smile because it's exactly what he would want.' I thought it was a lovely message.

"It's when you're away from racing or away from people, that's when it hurts. It hits you like a stake through the heart."

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