Maria Teresa de Filippis first woman to race in F1 passes away
The first woman driver to race in the Formula One world championship, Italian Maria Teresa De Filippis, has died at the age of 89.
“We lost another pioneering member of the motorsport world today,” Austrian Alex Wurz, a member of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Club that counted De Filippis as its honorary president, said on Twitter on Saturday.
The official Formula One Twitter feed also mourned the passing of an ‘incredible woman’.
Born in Naples on November 11, 1926, De Filippis started three grands prix in 1958 at the wheel of a Maserati and finished 10th and last at Spa in Belgium. She failed to finish in Portugal and her home race at Monza. In Belgium she had qualified 19th and last and was lapped twice.
De Filippis also tried to qualify for the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, with current Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone another who failed to make the cut that day.
In 1959 she again failed to qualify in Monaco and then retired after the death that year of her Porsche team leader, French ace Jean Behra, in a sportscar race before the German Grand Prix at Avus.
A 2012 book that marked the 50th anniversary of the Drivers’ Club recalled how De Filippis was greeted when she tried to sign up for the 1958 French Grand Prix in Reims.
“The only helmet a beautiful woman should wear is the one at the hairdressers’,” race director Toto Roche said as he prevented her from entering.
In her own introduction, De Filippis recalled the ‘difficulties and misunderstandings’ she had to overcome.
“Many journalists, too, did not always want general news but tried to get me to talk about particular situations as the only woman in the field,” she said.
She faced that also in later life, with many years passing before another woman lined up with the men.
Only five women have entered a grand prix since the championship started in 1950 and Italian Lella Lombardi, the next after De Filippis, remains the only one to have had any success with sixth place in Spain in 1975.
Lombardi made 12 starts, scoring half a point for her result in Spain after the race was stopped early due to a fatal accident.
No woman has started a grand prix since Lombardi, although Britain’s Divina Galica (1976-78), South African Desire Wilson (1980) and Italian Giovanna Amati (1992) all tried to qualify.
Statement by Grand Prix Drivers Club
Maria Teresa de Filippis, first woman to race in F1, passes away aged 89 Switzerland, Saturday January 9, 2015 – The Grand Prix Drivers Club (GPDC), established in 1962 as CIAPGPF1 by nine former F1 drivers headed by Louis Chiron and Juan Manuel Fangio is especially saddened to announce that Honorary President Maria Teresa di Filippis passed away on Saturday January 9, 2016.
The funeral will be held on Monday January 11, 2016 at Castello di Gavarno in Scanzorosciate (near Bergamo, Italy). Canzorosciate is the city where Maria Teresa de Filippis lived with husband Theo K. Huschek.
Don Sergio Mantovani, The Modena Ferrari F1 priest will lead the service. GPDC (Grand Prix Drivers Club) Vice President Emanuele Pirro and wife Marlene will represent the GPDC club.
Maria-Teresa de Filippis was the first woman driver to compete in Formula 1 participating in five F1 Grand Prix. After being President of the GPDC (Grand Prix Drivers Club) she became Honorary President.
Howden Ganley, the current President of the club said: “Motor racing has lost a very lovely lady. She was an icon, the first lady to race in Formula One, and of course we younger ones certainly admired that , as did her contemporaries.”
Maria Teresa, with her boundless enthusiasm, was a mainstay in our Club for so many years. She will be irreplaceable.
My sympathies to her daughter Carola , and especially to her soulmate and husband , the wonderful Theo, always at Maria Teresa’s side as they traveled the world.
Report supplied by Agnes Carlier