Jenson Button says the impact of the loss of his father has been "like a stake through the heart" and will be tough to deal with this season.

Button's father, John, passed away in January from a suspected heart attack at the age of 70. He had been a huge influence on Button's career from karting right through to F1 and was a key part of his support team at each grand prix. Speaking to reporters prior to the first race of the season in Australia, Button admitted he is still struggling to come to terms with John's death when he isn't occupied by driving.

"It's been a pretty strange couple of months," Button said. "I would say horrific but in certain ways it has been nice: people's thoughts about my father, the messages of condolence, things I never knew about him. It has been very special in that way to see how many people he has touched.

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"When you are busy testing you get on with your business and you can have a laugh, have a joke. Someone sent me a lovely message saying 'everyone else's lives will go back to normal but not for you but never feel guilty about having a laugh or a smile because that is exactly what he would want.'

"It is when you are away from racing or away from people when it hurts, it hits you like a stake through the heart. At the grand prix I won't be alone, I will have family and friends around which will help a lot. It will still be unbelievably difficult whether we have a good race or bad race but I will have a lot of support."

And Button also admitted the absence of his father would be felt at the start of every race.

"It will be tough. Whether I liked it or not he was always the last person to give me a high five or a cuddle before I got in the car. Even if I was getting in the car and trying to concentrate he would always be there and make sure he gave me that last hug. I am 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 c*** race it will also be emotional because he is not there to pick me up."