La Signorina F1, la pilotino, mother Teresa. Earlier this month, Maria Teresa de Fillipis passed away at the respectable age of 89. De Fillipis was the first woman who made it to the starting grid of a Formula One Grand Prix, which was at Monaco in 1958. Even though her free spirit was never reluctant to face off anyone who stood in her way, she was loved by many contemporary racers. They heralded her guts, her loyalty, sharp mind, passion and courage. She stood aside drivers like Juan-Manuel Fangio, Luigi Musso (who was very much charmed by De FIlippis beauty) and the soon-to-be world champion Mike Hawthorn. De Filippis enjoyed success in GT-racing, making quite the impression on the Maserati management. They contracted her as their works driver. Coming from a well-respected family with the status of Italian nobility, De Filippis was financially strongly supported. Mentally as well, as she proved to be able to compete with male drivers ever since her father gave her a Fiat 500 at age 22. Shortly after, she won a race on the mountain roads along the Amalfi coastline. For the 1958 season, De Filippis bought her own Maserati 250F, the same one that took Fangio to his fifth world championship in the previous year. While most of the drivers enjoyed De Fillipis determination, not everyone was as enthusiastic about seeing a female driver entering Formula One. The French circuit director told her that the only helmet a woman is supposed to wear is the one they get at the hairdressers.
Even though De Filippis was unable to do anything about this, she was well capable of keeping her posture in this macho world. She drove five Grands Prix in total, managing to finish tenth in the Belgium Grand Prix. After the death of Luigi Musso, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and her 1959 season team boss Jean Behra, De Filippis turned her back to Formula One. She was sickened of everyone getting killed. She became an active ambassador in 1978 when she joined the Club International des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix F1. This organisation was meant for former F1-drivers to become acquaint with each other, exchanging their legacies. How did she view the current Formula One? II dont really like the modern racing so much. Very little remains of the sport we knew when all the drivers were friends and spent time together. I watch some races on television but so much of what the modern drivers say is so predictable. Maybe they are not as free as we were in our time.