"I would love Britney to have a smash, it would be the greatest comeback ever," the music producer told Ryan Seacrest on his KIIS-FM radio show Friday.
"I think it would be phenomenal," continued Timbaland, "but I think she's got to be connected with her family. She can't do it alone." (Spears and her mother, Lynne, have had a troubled relationship recently.)
Comparing Spears, 25, to another famous singer, Timbaland added: "Sly can't come back on his own, he needs the family Stones. You need a team. You can't be an island."
On Thursday, MTV confirmed that Spears, whose new album is due out Nov. 13, will perform the Video Music Awards on Sunday, but Timbaland says the hype of her performance may be overblown.
"Britney's cool, but I think that ... it was too much," he says. "Now it's like, 'Okay, Britney's opening, she got a new song.' ...It's kinda dull. It's kinda flat-lined."
As for what he thinks of her new song, "Gimme More," he says: "I haven't heard it but everyone tells me, they just don't say nothing about it."
On the subject of his pal Justin Timberlake, with whom Timbaland collaborated on Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds, the producer says: "Justin is having so much success he could easily say, 'Okay, I want to operate as an island.' But he is easygoing. I'm not saying that [Britney] is not, I don't know. But Justin – we have a different aura together."
Going into the VMAs, Timberlake tied with Beyoncé Knowles to score a leading seven nominations, including a nod for video of the year for his "What Goes Around ... Comes Around."