The first female Formula One driver Maria Teresa de Filippis died on January the ninth aged 89. The Italian took part in three grand prix but only finished the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix.
She made her debut in Monaco failing to qualify for the race in her Maserati 250F in Monaco, and she would again fail to make the grid a year later for Porsche. De Filppis walked away from the sport the following year after the death of team owner Jean Bahra. Speaking to The Observer in 2006 she said it was because “Too many friends had died.”
Her racing career began because of bet by her brothers t 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 says men doubted her and that the only time she experienced true prejudice came in France.
“The race director said ‘the only helmet a woman should wear is the one at the hairdresser’s’ – that was the only time I was prevented from racing,” she told The Observer in 2006.
“Apart from that I don’t think I encountered any prejudice – only surprise at my success.”
De Fillippis took a break from racing to start a family returning to motorsport in 1979 to join the Club Internationale des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1 for retired drivers.
She later became vice president and then honorary president in 2000’s.