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Silverstone says no decision on British GP until July

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Silverstone's owners have dismissed as "speculative and wrong" recent media reports suggesting the British Formula One Grand Prix would be dropped after 2019.

The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) said in a statement on Friday that no decision on exercising a break clause would be made before mid-July, when the race is held.

"Our objective is to preserve the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come but, of course, we can only do this if it makes economic sense," said BRDC chairman John Grant.

"We will be considering over the next six months if we should give notice of our intention to exercise the break clause in our Grand Prix contract at the end of 2019. No decision has been made, or will be made, until mid-July."

Grant said the BRDC would be using the time until then "to explore with all interested parties, hopefully in private, various ways in which we might work out a more sustainable proposition".

The BRDC informed all members in a letter last month that it was giving serious thought to exercising a break clause because of the "potentially ruinous risk" posed by hosting fees that increased annually.

Media reports have indicated that Silverstone will have to pay nearly 17 million pounds ($21.08 million) to host the race this year, rising to 26 million by the end of the contract.

Silverstone, a former World War Two airfield that hosted the first Formula One championship race in 1950, has a contract to 2026 with a break clause on both sides from 2019 that has to be exercised two years in advance.

Formula One is undergoing a change of ownership, with U.S.-based Liberty Media taking over from CVC Capital Partners as commercial rights holders.

The deal is due for completion by the end of first quarter 2017, and could even be wrapped up within weeks.

Liberty said it wants to safeguard the traditional venues and put more emphasis on marketing the sport to new audiences, reducing costs and putting on a better show for fans.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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