Briatore and Ecclestone co-own Championship football club QPR
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says he thinks Flavio Briatore's indefinite ban for race-fixing is too severe.
The ex-Renault boss was punished for his role in ordering Nelson Piquet to crash in 2008's Singapore Grand Prix.
But Ecclestone, who was part of the hearing that dealt with the case, now feels the ban is harsh and has urged Briatore to appeal against it.
"On reflection it wasn't necessary. It was too much. Definitely too much," said the 78-year-old Ecclestone.
"I don't think it was necessary, but I was on the commission so I'm probably just as guilty as anybody."
Briatore's nine-year association with Renault ended last week when he, alongside former executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, was implicated in orchestrating Piquet Jr's crash in order to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
At a subsequent hearing of the FIA, the sport's governing body, the 59-year-old Italian was handed an indefinite ban from all FIA-sanctioned events, while Symonds was given a five-year suspension.
Renault were hit with a two-year suspended ban.
Now, with the dust beginning to settle on the scandal, Ecclestone has urged Briatore to appeal to the FIA but steer clear of any legal action.
"He should ask to be heard by the court of appeal. He should appeal to the FIA," said Ecclestone
"If he goes to a civil court... the FIA would have to defend and somebody will say that he sent a young guy out to what could have been to his death. It wouldn't go down too well, I wouldn't think."
Ecclestone and Briatore are friends as well as business partners, having bought Championship football side Queens Park Rangers, along with steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, in 2007.
And Ecclestone admitted his part in Briatore's ban had affected their friendship.
"He's not talking to me. He thinks I should have defended him, which I couldn't," said the billionaire.
"Honestly, I am a friend of Flavio's. He has just handled the whole thing badly. He could have handled it in a completely different way... and that would have been the end of it."
I have had Flavio look after me for years... I never looked at the contract after I signed it - and there are not many people in the paddock you can do that with
Under the terms of his ban, Briatore must also end his association with the two drivers that he manages, Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen.
If not, the FIA has to withhold their superlicences, which are a mandatory requirement to participate in F1.
But Red Bull driver Webber has spoken out strongly in support of his manager Briatore, saying he would choose not to have one rather than go with someone else.
"He has been sensational for me. I won't work with anyone else in the future if I can't work with him," said the Australian.
"I have had Flavio look after me for years. I never looked at the contract after I signed it - and there are not many people in the paddock you can do that with."
Meanwhile, Ecclestone has confirmed he was still working on a scheme to restore the United States Grand Prix to the schedule, two years after the last race at Indianapolis Speedway.
"We are getting there," he said, admitting his preferred option remains a street race in Manhattan.
BBC Sport understands Ecclestone has already had one short, abortive talk with the New York authorities about the prospect of a race through the streets of the city.
Ecclestone also revealed that circuit bosses at Donington Park had been given an extended deadline to sort out the funding they need to hold next year's British Grand Prix.
They had been told to have everything in place by the end of September, but the date has been moved to 3 October, with Silverstone waiting in the wings if Donington is not ready.