F1: A Tribute to Maria Teresa de Fillippis, the First Woman to Compete in Formula One

Jack Cobourn Featured, Formula One, International, Sprints & Midgets 0 Comments

SCANZOROSCIATE, Italy — Story by Race Chaser Online International Motorsports Correspondent Jack Cobourn — Getty Images Archive photo —

Maria Teresa de Fillippis, the first woman to compete in a Formula One World Championship grand prix, passed away last week at the age of 89.

De Fillippis made her debut on the Formula One grid in the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix, held at Spa-Francorchamps, driving a self-entered Maserati 250F. Having missed the cut in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix (along with a certain Mr. Ecclestone), she qualified last out of 19 starters at Spa, finishing 10th, two laps down on winner Tony Brooks. De Fillippis did not finish either of her other two grand prix races that season, in Portugal and Italy.

She began the 1959 season racing for Jean Behra’s Porsche team, running a little streamlined RSK Formula Two machine, but failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix. Upon Behra’s death in a support race to the 1959 German Grand Prix at Avus, De Fillippis hung up her helmet at the age of 33.

In addition to her Formula One exploits, De Fillippis was a good sports car racer, finishing second in the 1954 Italian Sports Car Championship. She won her first race, a 10-kilometer drive between two Italian cities in a little Fiat 500.

In her later years, de Fillippis worked with Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1, an organization for retired Formula One drivers. Having joined in 1978, de Fillippis was made vice-president in 1997, and the honorary president in 2011.

Since de Fillippis’ time on the tracks of Europe, women such as Lella Lombardi and Desire Wilson have started in a Formula One race, but Maria Teresa de Fillippis will always be remembered as the first to do so.


About the Writer

Jack Cobourn is the international motorsports correspondent at Race Chaser Online, and covers the V8 Supercars Championship, Rally Cars and World Rallycross. Cobourn has been an avid follower of motorsports for years, having not missed a Formula One race in 16 seasons. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware, with a degree in history and a minor in journalism.

Email Jack at: Jack.Cobourn@yahoo.com

Email Race Chaser Online: news@racechaseronline.com

Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews

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