De Filippis made her debut in the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, posting her best ever Grand Prix finish of tenth, driving a Maserati 250F. Argentine racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio had claimed his fifth world championship the previous year driving an identical car.

When interviewed in 2006 and asked what she remembered most about racing in her first Grand Prix championship? De Filippis answered: “It was fantastic – I didn’t think about the result at all – but it wasn’t a big step up. I’d been driving cars with progressively bigger and bigger engines and in those days the top drivers took part in other events - sports cars, hill climbing, endurance races - so right from the start I’d been competing against F1 drivers.”