Tribute to trailblazing Maserati Formula One driver

The first ever woman driver to race in Formula One has died aged 89. Maria Teresa de Filippis raced for Maserati and led the way for women in motorsport.

De Filippis, an Italian, began her driving career aged 22, when she won her first race driving a Fiat 500. As she improved, and after finishing second in the 1954 Italian Sports Car Championship, Maserati saw potential in her and brought her onto the driving team.

De Filippis went on to take part in racing events of all kinds, including endurance and hill-climbing, before driving a Maserati 250f at the Belgium Grand Prix of 1958. Despite coming tenth, de Filippis became the first woman to compete in a Formula One world championship race. The 250f driven by de Filippis was the very same vehicle that Juan Manuel Fangio had steered to his fifth world title success the previous year.

De Filippis entered seven Grands Prix races, qualifying for three of them. In 1959, she quit the sport to start a family. In 2006 she said that “too many friends had died”. Team owner Jean Behra was one such casualty in 1958. De Filippis also cited the deaths of Mike Hawthorn, Alfonso de Portago, Peter Collins and Lugi Musso as reasons for her departure from the sport.

De Filippis later reconnected with motor racing, and in 1979 she joined the Club Internationale des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1, becoming its vice president in 1997. She was also a founding member of the Maserati Club. Maria Teresa De Filippis died on January 8 January 2016, leaving a lasting legacy on the Maserati marque.

The current generation of Maserati cars are available at our Colchester showroom.