“I'm humanly very sorry for Flavio Briatore, who has been one of F1's main players in the last 20 years. It's a serious and delicate matter, but I hope and wish that the punishment he has received will soon be reduced,” said Di Montezemolo in an interview with Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
Both Di Montezemolo and Briatore were actively involved in the long-lasting political war between the Formula One Teams Association and the FIA. In addition, the Ferrari official insisted that Briatore did a lot of good things inside the sport and should not be remembered only for his wrongdoings in the crash gate.
The Ferrari CEO is not the only F1 official to insist Briatore's punishment is too severe. Earlier today, F1 boss and friend of the 59-year old Italian Bernie Ecclestone admitted that the former Renault principal was handed a too harsher penalty, as compared to Pat Symonds (5 years) and Renault (2-year suspended ban).
However, the 78-year old Brit argued that Briatore acted foolishly before the WMSC meeting, as he did no admit to his mistakes before the members of the council. Had he came forward with the whole thing, the FIA would have likely handed him a lighter ban.
Briatore was quoted as saying in the Italian media that he'll issue a criminal proceeding against the ruling body in order to clear his name.
“At the end when I have won I will have a big party. I will invite all of those people who are close to me in this difficult time,” said Briatore, according to Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.
Ecclestone, instead, advised his friend and business associate to first issue an appeal to that decision within the FIA boundaries, as a civil lawsuit will only lead to more damages in the long run.
“It would be stupid of Flavio to do that. He should ask to be heard by the (FIA's) Court of Appeal. If he goes to a civil court I don't think he would win. Because 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. So it wouldn't go down too well,” said Ecclestone.