Women in F1: A brief history as Calderon gets Sauber test drive

Ahead of International Women's Day, we look back at some of Formula One's female pioneers.

Sauber's Tatiana Calderon.   -  Twitter/@SauberF1Team

The promotion of Tatiana Calderon from Sauber development driver to a test seat once again raises the possibility that Formula One could end its long wait for a female driver.

Not since Lella Lombardi finished 12th at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix has a woman sat behind the wheel on an F1 starting grid, although a few have come close.

So, could Colombian Calderon - promoted in the week International Women's Day will be marked around the world - be the driver to finally make the breakthrough into a race seat?

Here we look back at the history of F1's female pioneers.


1958: Maria Teresa de Filippis becomes the first woman to enter an F1 race when she drives for Maserati at the Monaco Grand Prix but fails to qualify. The Italian eventually starts her first grand prix in Belgium later that year, finishing 10th following the retirement of the likes of Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Stirling Moss. She is banned from the French Grand Prix after the race director reportedly claims: "The only helmet that a woman should use is the one at the hairdressers." De Filippis entered a total of five races across two years in F1, starting three.

1975: Lella Lombardi becomes the first - and so far only - woman to score a point in F1. Fifteen years after compatriot De Filippis' last entry, Lombardi made her debut at the 1974 British Grand Prix. But it is her performance for March in Spain the following year that earns her biggest slice of F1 history, when she finishes sixth to earn 0.5 drivers' championship points. Lombardi is the most prolific female driver in the sport, having started 12 grands prix across three seasons.

1976: The British Grand Prix becomes the first race to feature two female entrants, as Lombardi and Divina Galica attempt to qualify. Unfortunately, neither makes the starting grid.

1980: Desire Wilson of South Africa tries and fails in her only attempt to qualify for an F1 grand prix but is recognised with the naming of a stand in her honour at Brands Hatch following her win in a British F1 Championship race at the circuit during the same year.

1992: It is 12 years before another woman tries to qualify for an F1 race, with Giovanna Amati failing in all three attempts for Brabham. She is replaced by future world champion Damon Hill, who only secures a place in two of eight races entered in the same car.

2012: Monisha Kaltenborn becomes F1's first female team principal and leads Sauber for five years before her departure last year.

2014: Williams test driver Susie Wolff becomes the first woman in 22 years to take part in an F1 race weekend when she steps in for Valtteri Bottas in free practice at Silverstone.

2018: Sauber promote Tatiana Calderon from development to test driver, raising hope of a first female start in a grand prix since 1976.

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