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Rosberg contract talks unaffected by crash - Mercedes

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Formula One - Grand Prix of Austria - Spielberg, Austria - 2/7/16 - Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during a news conference. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
Formula One - Grand Prix of Austria - Spielberg, Austria - 2/7/16 - Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during a news conference. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

By Alan Baldwin

SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg has been assured his ongoing contract negotiations with Formula One champions Mercedes will not be affected by Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix collision with team mate Lewis Hamilton.

"The contract is a long-term decision and isn't influenced by a race incident," team boss Toto Wolff told reporters at the Red Bull Ring.

An exasperated Wolff, who has a 30 percent stake in the team as well as being Mercedes motorsport director, had earlier slammed the latest clash between the two title rivals as 'brainless'.

Stewards blamed Rosberg for causing the last lap incident, imposing a meaningless time penalty and reprimand.

The German, who has been at Mercedes since 2010 and turned 31 last week, finished fourth while triple world champion Hamilton won to cut Rosberg's overall lead to 11 points with 12 races remaining.

While Hamilton has a contract to 2018, Rosberg's future is in discussion. Austria's former McLaren and Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger is negotiating with Mercedes on his behalf.

He told Reuters no deal had been reached yet and whether Rosberg stayed was up to Mercedes.

"It would be very short-term thinking of everybody," he added when asked about a possible negative impact of a collision that denied the team a one-two finish.

"We are seeing here a race where somebody did an outstanding job, and then a couple of circumstances happened in the last lap."

Rosberg has won five of nine races so far this season and, despite some speculation about a possible Ferrari move, has said he expects to remain at Mercedes for years to come.

"It feels great to be here, and the team's also very happy with me," he said. "I feel really very much at home. This is my racing family here and this is where I want to be for the foreseeable future."

Asked on Sunday whether anything had changed, he replied that he was just disappointed to have lost another victory.

"I had it in the bag and would have loved to win here. To lose it in such a way in the last lap is unbelievably hard," said the German, who had been chasing a hat-trick of Austria wins.

"I don't think of a big picture like that," he added when asked about working with Hamilton. "I'm just thinking of today and I'm gutted and that's it.

"I just lost the race and he won it. I'm the guy that suffered from the collision and he didn't."

(Editing by John O'Brien)


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