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Maria Teresa de Filippis, first female F1 racer, dies at 89

09 Jan 2016

Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first woman to compete in a world championship Formula One Grand Prix, has passed away at the age of 89.

The Italian made three Grand Prix starts for the Maserati team in 1958, with a best result of 10th at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

She also failed to qualify for the 1958 and 1959 Monaco Grands Prix, her second attempt being in a Behra-Porsche, and she walked away from the sport after the death of team boss Jean Behra later that year.

Naples-born De Filippis began racing after her brothers bet that she wouldn’t be fast enough, the result being that she won her first event in a Fiat 500. She went on to enjoy success in sports cars, before getting her F1 chance with Maserati.

De Filippis returned to a motorsport role in 1979 when she joined the Club Internationale des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1 for retired drivers, eventually going on to become its honorary president. She was also a founding member of the Maserati Club.

Only one other woman has recorded an F1 race start. The late Lella Lombardi, also Italian, started 12 Grands Prix between 1974 and ’76.

Main image © LAT Photographic