La F1 it is the most important category on the planet. Great pilots have passed through it and, thanks to their feats, became legends. Such is the case of the Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, The Brazilian Ayrton Senna or the German Michael Schumacher. However, from 1950 to the present day few women managed to run. In fact, there are plenty of fingers on one hand to identify them ...
Only the Italians Maria Teresa de Filippis y Lella lombardi Grand Prix started. The first participated in three GP's between 1958 and 1959 and the second in a dozen between 1974 and 1976. Those who stayed with the desire were the English Divine Galica, with three attempts between 1976 and 1978; the south african Desire Wilson, who wanted to run a GP in 1980; and also Italian Giovanna Amatti, who tried to compete in three tests in 1992. Lombardi, the daughter of a butcher and no history in the sport, was not only the one who ran the most times, but was the only woman who scored points in the World Cup.
After having experience in minor categories for a decade, something that was not easy for her being a woman, Lella appeared in the paddock of the Máxima with a diver and helmet at the 1974 British Grand Prix to drive a Brabham-Ford Cosworth of Allied Polymer Group.
The 33-year-old girl from the town of Frugarolo (a small Piedmontese town of about 2.000 inhabitants), he had short hair and manners similar to those of a man, something he did to feel part of the environment. His debut did not end well: he failed to qualify to race and became a curiosity of that weekend at the circuit of Brands-Hatch.
After several months without activity in F.1, Lombardi returned to the ring in the 1975 tournament. He appeared at the South African Grand Prix, the third round of that event, to drive a March-Ford Cosworth of the March Engineering. He secured 26th and last place on the grid after being more than three seconds behind the Brazilian poleman Carlos Pace (Brabham). However, she lasted 23 laps into the race until a fuel pump problem forced her to drop out.
His second presentation was at the Spanish Grand Prix, rarefied by the threats of boycott by the pilots due to the lack of security on the urban track of Monjuich. He qualified 24th and from that place began the test, which was stopped after 29 laps of the 84 agreed by an accident of the German Rolf Stomellen (Hill) that ended the lives of five spectators.
At the time of the red flag that marked the end of the competition, Lella was in sixth place. Because the GP awarded half the score, the Piedmontese scored half as much and became the first female representative to achieve such a feat.
After the Spanish competition he appeared in another ten Grands Prix and ran nine. In the Austrian GP he achieved his best position in qualifying by finishing 20th; while in the German GP at the fearsome Nürburgring he achieved his second best result by finishing seventh. That 1975 championship was finished 21st and last thanks to that half unit added to the Iberian GP.
In 1976 his campaign had no continuity: he appeared in four races and only ran in two. The last one was at the Austrian GP with a Brabham-Ford Cosworth from RAM Racing. He finished 12th after starting 24th.
After Formula 1, Lombardi remained linked to motorsport. He participated in four editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (it was 11th in the 1977 edition), had sporadic participations in the British Formula 1, the NASCAR y el DTM and even founded his own team.
Maria Grazia “Lella” Lombardi, the woman who ran more F.1 Grand Prix than any other, died of cancer on March 3, 1992, 23 days after her 51st birthday. Until his last breath, he tried to help women get into motorsport and his example served a lot.