Maria Teresa de Filipis, the first woman to race in the Formula 1 World Championship, has died at the age of 89. She entered five Grands Prix in 1958 and 1959 and qualified on three occasions, all of them at the wheel of a private Maserati 250F. Her first start, at the Belgian GP at Spa would end up being her only finish, in 10th and last place, two laps behind the winner Tony Brooks.
This attractive woman from Rome raced six-cylinder Maserati sports cars before trying a 250F in the 1958 Belgian, Portuguese and Italian Grands Prix. She retired after failing to qualify the Behra Porsche Formula 2 special at Monaco the following year. She failed to finish the other two races because of mechanical troubles.
She quit the sport the following year, following the death of Jean Behra in a support race at the German GP at Avus. She had driven a Behra Porsche at Monaco earlier in the year.
It would be 15 years before the next woman – Lella Lombardi – raced in F1.
De Filippis went onto play a major role in the Grand Prix Drivers’ Club.