After years of criticism from fans and pundits in Italy, Sky Sport Italia commentator Carlo Vanzini believes Max Verstappen's breakthrough 2021 campaign is finally swinging support in the country in his favour.
The Dutchman is battling it out with Lewis Hamilton for the 2021 F1 World Championship, and while the Italian Tifosi usually only have eyes for Ferrari, it seems the Red Bull driver is starting to grow on them.
RacingNews365.com caught up with Vanzini at the Dutch Grand Prix and discussed why Verstappen is finally garnering support in Italy, after being critical of the youngster in the past.
"It's true that Italian fans and we as the media have been critical of Max," Vanzini revealed. "That is certainly different now, because Max is driving great at the moment and is in a tough battle with Hamilton for the F1 title.
"That fight is causing many Italians and Ferrari fans to stand and cheer for Verstappen in hopes he'll win the title.
"Since the battle between the two drivers began, you can see that many of my countrymen are big fans of Verstappen. I think that stems from the fact that many Italian F1 fans like to see a young driver take on an established name, someone who has already written Formula 1 history, like Hamilton has during his F1 career.
"It's also important to remember that Hamilton had some tough battles with Sebastian Vettel when the German drove for Ferrari. That's an extra reason for Ferrari fans to support Verstappen now."
While most of the focus this season has been on the fight for the championship, Ferrari have also been a major storyline as they continue their bounce back after a disastrous 2020 campaign.
The Scuderia likely won't challenge for victory at this weekend's race, meaning many are wondering how the team will do in 2022, though Vanzini isn't convinced that they'll be in the title fight.
"Ferrari will have to focus on 2022 and of course the team is doing that," Vanzini added. "Right now they are still paying the price for the deal they made with the FIA regarding their power unit at the end of 2019.
"Of course, they have improved the car a bit at Maranello this season, especially compared to last year, but they still have a long way to go.
"That's why I don't expect Ferrari to fight for the title next year. Although the cars are changing a lot, I think they will need more time to be able to fight at the front again. It's a process and it takes time.
"I have heard that the people at Maranello are very satisfied with the development of the power unit for next season. That's an important fact no doubt, but it isn't possible to say whether the car will also be faster just yet."
"Many F1 drivers, for example, have already clocked up miles in the simulator, which can be driven in the 2022 chassis. The car is logically much slower than this season's car and that scares some drivers.
"Thus, the question is which F1 team will lose the least amount of time next year compared to this season. That's exactly what makes the future very interesting."
As for the present, Italian F1 fans are happy they're finally able to sit in the grandstands at Monza once again after being unable to attend last year's race.
"Sunday's Italian GP will finally see fans in the stands again and that is very important for us," Vanzini added. "We have had a wonderful summer of sport in Italy so we are looking forward to the F1 race in our country.
"It won't look like the Netherlands as only 50 percent of the grandstands can be filled at Monza. Nevertheless, it is finally a restart after so many races without spectators last year.
"Hopefully we will see as much red in Italy as we saw orange at Zandvoort!"
Follow Rudy van Buren as he takes you on a flying lap around the home of Italian motorsport, the historic 'Temple of Speed' at Monza.