Maria Teresa de Filippis

Maria Teresa de Filippis (11 November 1926 – 8 January 2016) was an Italian racing driver, and the first woman to race in Formula One. She participated in five World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 18 May 1958, but scored no championship points. Though her Formula One racing career was brief, she won races in other series and is remembered as a pioneer in the sport.

Maria Teresa de Filippis
de Filippis at the 1949 Aosta–Gran San Bernardo hillclimb
Born(1926-11-11)11 November 1926
Naples, Campania, Italy
Died8 January 2016(2016-01-08) (aged 89)
Scanzorosciate, Lombardy, Italy
Formula One World Championship career
NationalityItaly Italian
Active years19581959
Non-works Maserati
Entries5 (3 starts)
Career points0
Pole positions0
Fastest laps0
First entry1958 Monaco Grand Prix
Last entry1959 Monaco Grand Prix


De Filippis was born on 11 November 1926 in Naples, Italy, the youngest of five children of an Italian Count and a Spanish mother. Her father owned the 16th-century Palazzo Marigliano in Naples and the Palazzo Bianco (White Palace) near Caserta. She was a keen horse rider and tennis player in her teenage years.[1][2][3][4][5]

Early careerEdit

De Filippis debuted in the 1948 Salerno–Cava de' Tirreni race, in a Fiat 500

At the age of 22, de Filippis began her racing career. Two of her brothers told her that she would not be able to go very fast, goading her and making a bet that she would be slow. She won her first race, driving a Fiat 500 on a 10 km drive between Salerno and Cava de' Tirreni. She went on to drive in the Italian sports car championship, finishing second in the 1954 season. Seeing her potential, Maserati brought her in as the works driver.[3]

De Filippis took part in various motor racing events, including hillclimbing and endurance racing, before being given the chance to drive in Formula One.[3] She finished second in a sportscar race supporting the 1956 Naples Grand Prix, driving a Maserati 200S.[6]

Formula OneEdit

De Filippis in her Maserati 250F s/n 2501/2523 at the Italian Grand Prix (Monza) on 7 September 1958

Maserati was a successful Formula One chassis manufacturer in the 1950s, supplying several teams and winning numerous races. In 1957 Juan Manuel Fangio won the drivers' title in a Maserati 250F,[1] his fifth and final championship win.[7] The team officially withdrew from the sport at the end of the year but many of the cars remained, being driven by privateers.[8] On 18 May 1958 de Filippis was given the opportunity to enter the Monaco Grand Prix, the second round of the 1958 Formula One season, in one of the 250Fs. Of the 31 entrants only half set a time good enough to qualify, with de Filippis missing out alongside fellow debutant and future Formula One Management and Formula One Administration president Bernie Ecclestone. De Filippis's time of 1'50.8 was 5.8 seconds behind the qualifying time of the fastest 16 which included future world champions Mike Hawthorn, Jack Brabham, and Graham Hill in his first race.[9][10][11] Fangio gave de Filippis plenty of advice during the season. In a 2006 interview she recalled that Fangio told her, "You go too fast, you take too many risks."[3]

The 1958 Belgian Grand Prix allowed all drivers to compete with no cut-off for a qualifying time. De Filippis qualified in 19th place, nearly 34 seconds off Tony Brooks' pole position time and only ahead of a mechanically-hindered Ken Kavanagh. Although she was lapped twice in the 24 lap race she managed to finish, albeit in 10th and last place after nine other cars failed to finish.[12] This would prove to be her only race finish.[1]

At the following race, the French Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux on 6 July 1958, de Fillipis was unable to compete. She claimed in her 2006 interview that the French race director said "The only helmet a woman should wear is the one at the hairdresser's" and that he prevented her from taking part.[3][13]

De Filippis had a poor result at the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix in August. She qualified in last place, more than 15 seconds slower than the car ahead of her, and only lasted six laps before her engine failed. On 7 September 1958, she started her home Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza from last place. She completed 57 of the 70 laps before having to retire with engine problems. As the 14th and final retirement out of 21, she could be classified as finishing eighth.[14][15]

De Filippis joined the Behra-Porsche RSK team for 1959 but again failed to qualify at the Monaco Grand Prix. Her time of 1'47.8 was three seconds off the lowest qualifying pace and a further one second behind teammate Wolfgang von Trips.[16] It was her final attempt at Grand Prix qualification, though she was still active in motor racing.[1]

Retirement and later careerEdit

1958 was a tragic year in Formula One with the death of several drivers.[8] Porsche team leader Jean Behra died in a racing accident on 1 August 1959 while driving in the sports car support race for the 1959 German Grand Prix at AVUS.[17] De Filippis was supposed to drive at that event and was devastated by deaths of several friends during her time in the sport and especially that of Behra. She left the circuit and turned her back on motor racing for 20 years.[15][5]

Around 1960 she married Austrian chemist Theodor Huschek, and started a family.[4] She kept away from all forms of motor racing until 1979 when she joined the International Club of Former F1 Grand Prix Drivers, going on to take the role of Vice-President in 1997. She was also a founding member of the Maserati Club in 2004 and went on to become its chairperson.[3][15] De Filippis died in January 2016 at the age of 89.[18]


De Filippis was a pioneer in motor racing, a sport dominated by men, and no woman would race in Formula One for a further 15 years. Fellow Italian Lella Lombardi competed between 1974 and 1976 and remains the only female to have finished a World Championship Formula One race in a point-scoring position. Five other women have since competed in the sport, most recently Susie Wolff in 2014.[19][20]

Racing recordEdit

Complete Formula One World Championship resultsEdit


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1958 Maria Teresa de Filippis Maserati 250F Maserati
Scuderia Centro Sud POR
1959 Dr Ing F Porsche KG Behra-Porsche RSK (F2) Porsche Flat-4 MON

Non-Championship Formula One resultsEdit


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6
1958 Maria Teresa de Filippis Maserati 250F Maserati
1959 Maria Teresa de Filippis Maserati 250F Maserati


  1. ^ a b c d Williamson, Martin. "Maria Teresa de Filippis". ESPN. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  2. ^ MotorSport, Database for Maria Teresa de Filipis
  3. ^ a b c d e f Eve, James (5 March 2006). "Maria Teresa De Filippis". Observer Sport Monthly. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b Daily Telegraph, 11 Feb 2016, Obituary of Maria Teresa de Filippis
  5. ^ a b "Maria Teresa de Filipis". 11 January 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  6. ^ "XIII GRAN PREMIO NAPOLI Another Bad Day for Ferrari". Motor Sport magazine archive. June 1956. p. 61. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  7. ^ Donaldson, Gerald. "Juan Manuel Fangio". The Official Formula 1 Website. Formula One World Championship Ltd. Archived from the original on 11 November 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Hawthorn's title in a season of tragedy". ESPN. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  9. ^ "1958 Monaco Grand Prix". The Official Formula 1 Website. Formula One World Championship Ltd. Archived from the original on 19 August 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Monaco Grand Prix 1958 / Results". ESPN. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Graham Hill". ESPN. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Belgian Grand Prix 1958 / Results". ESPN. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  13. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (16 January 2016). "Maria Teresa de Filippis, Pioneer of Auto Racing, Dies at 89". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Italian Grand Prix 1958 / Results". ESPN. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  15. ^ a b c Resteck, Hilary; Schuster, Casey. "Maria Teresa de Filippis" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 December 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Monaco Grand Prix 1959 / Results". ESPN. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  17. ^ "Cooper powers Jack Brabham to the title". ESPN. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  18. ^ "F1's first-ever female driver passes away aged 89". Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  19. ^ "A Brief History of Women in F1 - Formula World |Formula 1". 19 August 2021.
  20. ^ Williamson, Martin (4 April 2011). "Queens of speed". ESPN. Retrieved 19 November 2011.