Montoya committed to Ganassi through end of NASCAR season

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Those hoping for a Juan Pablo Montoya versus Chip Ganassi rivalry – personally – will have to wait until the 2014 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins. Right now, the two are still respectful of each other and their decisions to move in different directions next year.

“Well, I tried to call him this morning to tell him about it, and actually we texted because he was in Europe,” Montoya said Monday on a conference call about relaying the news to Ganassi. “I feel like he was very excited for me. Something that we have with Chip is that we are very good friends. We have a lot of respect for each other.

“As he had to make a decision this year to go a different direction, I had to do the same thing. And I have a great opportunity and a great chance with Team Penske, and you know, we are going to be competitors and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

A Ganassi-to-Penske switch is IndyCar’s equivalent of a Red Sox-to-Yankees move in baseball. Or Packers-Bears in football. But Montoya has done something similar before in Formula One, when he left Williams after the 2004 season.

“It’s exciting. I mean, if you think about it, I lived that before in Formula One between Williams and McLaren, and that was fun,” Montoya said. “Honestly, when I raced the IndyCars, the guys to beat – you were looking where the Penskes are, and to be driving one of those, it’s fun. I’m really excited. I feel like a 5-year-old kid right now.”

Montoya and Penske Racing President Tim Cindric have ruled out the option, for now, of Montoya running a third IndyCar at the season finale at Fontana. Montoya said he remains committed to his NASCAR duties to finish out the year, although you figure it would make sense for Ganassi to field an entry at some race for Kyle Larson before his rookie season in 2014.

“I’m still committed with Chip and the NASCAR program for the next nine races. We all are working very hard to get that oval win for the end of the year and keep running as good as we can; get a couple poles and do whatever we can to the end of the year,” Montoya said.

Cindric added, “From my perspective, yeah, I’d love to run him in Fontana, but something tells me Chip’s probably not going to let that happen! We already talked about the fact that he’s got to stay focused and the commitments that he has on the 42 car there. We’re certainly not going to get in the way of any of that, and there’s a seat for him here as soon as he’s able to take it. But no, there’s no plans for that as we sit here.”

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.