Jenson Button pays tribute to "tragic" F1 driver Maria De Villota
Jenson Button has described the death of Formula 1 reserve racing driver Maria De Villota as "horrendous and tragic".
Spaniard De Villota, 33 - who lost her right eye in a crash last July while testing for the Marussia team - was found dead in a hotel room in Seville this morning.
A police spokeswoman said: "We are assuming it was a natural death but we cannot confirm anything."
The news has been greeted with shock and distress by Formula 1 drivers, who have in free practice at Suzuka today ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.
"Today's news about Maria de Villota is horrendous and tragic," said McLaren driver Button.
"She had been through so much - much more than most people will ever have to go through in their lives - and it's been so tough for her.
"This is a real shock to the whole Formula 1 family and the world of motorsport. My thoughts are with her family at this time."
Button was 11th quickest in the first session of free practice, then ninth in the second.
"It's great to be out on the circuit," said the Frome Flyer, whose team-mate Sergio 'Checo' Perez crashed out of second practice.
"Throughout the day, we saw a lot of drivers making mistakes but that's the nature of this place – it's unforgiving. Obviously, we don't like to see accidents like Checo's but you appreciate that you have to respect this place.
"It's been a relatively good Friday. We found a good balance on the Prime tyre but still need to do some work with the Option because we didn’t gain too much going from the harder tyre to the softer one.
"Nevertheless, while both compounds are working reasonably well, I believe there is a cooler weather front coming in for tomorrow, so we need to be careful about the direction we take with the set-up to best cope with it."