Maria Teresa De Filippis


The first lady F1 driver was Maria Teresa De Filippis, who died in January at the age of 89.

De Filippis, who was born in Naples, began racing after her brothers bet that she wouldn’t be fast enough. She started three grands prix for Maserati in 1958 and achieved a best finish of P10 at the Belgian Grand Prix.

She attempted to qualify for two other events but was unable to before walking away from motor racing in 1959 following the death of her team owner Jean Behra.

Maria Teresa De Filippis.

“Very sad to hear Maria Teresa De Filippis has passed away. The first Lady Grand Prix racer and driving force of the (retired) Grand Prix Drivers’ Club,” tweeted former driver Martin Brundle.

Alex Wurz added his condolences, “We lost another pioneering member of the Motorsport world today, Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first woman to race in F1. RIP.”

The late Lella Lombardi is the only other woman to start a Formula 1 race, making the grid in 12 grands prix between 1974 and 1976. Britain’s Divina Galica, the South African Desire Wilson and the Italian Giovanna Amati all tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the F1 races.