Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first female driver in Formula One and a competitor in a handful of grands prix in 1958 and ’59, died last month in Lombary, Italy. She was 89. Read on to learn more about this early pioneer of women’s F1 racing.
The motorsports community lost one of its favorite stars last month with the passing of Maria Teresa de Filippis. The announcement of her death on January 9th was announced on the website of the Formula 1 Grand Prix Drivers Club where Maria-Teresa served as Honorary Club President. Click here to read it.
According to the remembrance posted there by the writer and racing historian, Graham Gauld, Maria-Teresa was born in Naples in 1926 to an aristocratic, Italian family. She showed an interest in cars and horses at an early age until a fateful visit to a fortuneteller in 1947 revealed that her destiny lie in motor racing.
At 22, she entered a Fiat 500 in a road race and won, and from there went onto compete in various sports car hill climb and endurance racing as a factory driver for Maserati before getting her shot at qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix in 1958. Though she failed to qualify, Maria-Teresa went on to place 10th in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa the same year.
Though she never managed to score any championship points before retiring, Maria-Teresa raced extensively and was always remembered as a fearless and exciting racer to watch. She remains one of only a handful of women tested in F1. Click here to read Graham Gauld’s full story.