27 October 2022
A pioneer in motor racing, Maria Teresa de Filippis was the first woman to race in Formula One and participated in five World Championship Grand Prix races.
She first raced a Maserati 250F on the 18th of May 1958 at Monaco and has since held the position of Vice President of the International Club of Former F1 Grand Prix Drivers and was a founding member of the Maserati Club in 2004. A most formidable lady.
She was also involved in hill climbs and endurance racing. At the 1950 Giro di Sicilia, she was disqualified after the finish as the organisers claimed she had been push-started.
An outraged Tazio Nuvolari, the racing genius who let his driving do the talking, the driver who walked the line between skill and recklessness but never crossed it. Protested, declaring ‘it was crazy that they had made a girl drive over one thousand kilometres on wet roads and then disqualified her.’
Rejecting the opportunity to drive for Ferrari, in 1958, she entered her first world championship event in Monaco; regrettably, she failed to qualify along with a young Bernie Ecclestone in a Connaught.
In the Belgian Gran Prix, she finished 10th, made all the more impressive since she was only 5’2’ and her Maserati was modified with ‘special padding’.
She could not compete at the French Grand Prix because a race director stopped her because ‘The only helmet a woman should wear is the one at the hairdresser.’
Maria Teresa de Filippis: ‘Fangio told me I drove too fast. That kinda’ sounds like a compliment.