Maria Teresa de Filippis, seen above in her Maserati 250F in the pits during practice for the Monaco Grand Prix in 1958, died last week at the age of 89. She had begun her motor racing career after a challenge from her brothers and did well in Italian sports car events. As a result, she was invited to join the Maserati team.
De Filippis was the first woman to compete in the F1 World Championship after that championship was inaugurated in 1950. She started three F1 races, with her only finish in 10th and last position in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in 1958. She also tried to qualify twice for the Monaco Grand Prix, but due to the limit of 16 starters, did not succeed in making the race. He last attempt there was in 1959 with the Behra-Porsche of her friend and F1 driver Jean Behra. After Behra was killed in a Porsche RSK at a support race at Avus before the German Grand Prix that same year, de Filippis announced her retirement at the age of 33.
De Filippis was invited to join the Club Internationale des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1 for retired drivers where she eventually became the honorary president. She was also president of the Maserati Club in Italy which she had founded.
Photo by Alan R. Smith ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com