Who was the first female racing car driver to race in Formula One?
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.
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.
De Filippis took part in various motor racing events, including hill climbing and endurance racing, before being given the chance to drive in Formula One. She finished second in a sportscar race supporting the 1956 Naples Grand Prix, driving a Maserati 200S.