26 March 1941|
Frugarolo, Piedmont, Italy
|Died||3 March 1992
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Teams||March, RAM, Williams|
|Entries||17 (12 starts)|
|First entry||1974 British Grand Prix|
|Last entry||1976 Austrian Grand Prix|
Born in Frugarolo, Piedmont, she participated in 17 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 20 July 1974. She is the only female Formula One driver in history to have a top six finish in a World Championship race, at the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. Half points were awarded for this race due to a shortened race distance, hence Lombardi received half a point instead of the usual one point. As well as being the sole female driver to score points in Formula One, she is one of the two who managed to qualify for a Formula One race (the other being compatriot Maria Teresa de Filippis) and the only driver with that career total.
Lombardi was born in Frugarolo, a small town in Piedmont. Her father was a butcher, and Lombardi's first job was to drive the delivery van for her family shop. After a brief experience with karting, she bought her first car in 1965 and raced in Formula Monza. In 1968 she moved on to Italian Formula Three, where she ended the season as runner-up to Franco Bernabei. In 1970 she raced a Biraghi in the Italian Formula 850 series. Lombardi won four of the ten races in the calendar, winning the championship. In 1971 she moved to London where she won the Formula Ford Mexico championship. In 1974 she raced in Formula 5000 with a Eagle Chevrolet.
Lombardi debuted in Formula One in 1974 with a privately entered Brabham supported by the Italian Automobile Club but failed to qualify. In 1975 she was invited to join Vittorio Brambilla and Hans-Joachim Stuck at March and raced the full season. At the opening race of the campaign in South Africa, Lombardi became the first woman, since Maria Teresa de Filippis in 1958, to successfully qualify for a Grand Prix. Her race lasted for 23 laps until she was forced to retire with a fuel system problem. 1975 would prove to be an eventful season for the March Team. Brambilla scored a surprise victory in the rain-shortened 1975 Austrian Grand Prix, while Lombardi scored a Championship point in the Spanish Grand Prix. The race suffered a major tragedy after 25 laps, when the rear wing on Rolf Stommelen's Embassy Hill broke, sending him into the barrier. He bounced off it and back into the road, hitting the barrier across the way, and flying over it. While trying to avoid Stommelen as he crossed the track, Carlos Pace crashed. Five spectators were killed by Stommelen's flying car with the driver suffering a broken leg, a broken wrist and two cracked ribs. The race continued for another four laps, during which Jochen Mass passed Ickx for the lead. On lap 29, the race was halted with Mass the winner, Ickx second, and Jean-Pierre Jarier crossed the line in third position. Carlos Reutemann finished fourth ahead of Brambilla, while Lombardi finished in sixth. With the race being stopped before three-fourths of the scheduled race distance was reached, only half points were awarded. Lombardi's other best result was at the German Grand prix, where she finished seventh. At the USA Grand Prix at Watkins Glen Lombardi had a one-off drive for Williams. She qualified for the race but an ignition problem prevented her from starting.
In 1976 Lombardi was confirmed at March alongside Brambilla and Stuck. She finished 14th at the Brazilian Grand Prix but the team decided to replace her with Ronnie Peterson, who became available after breaking away from Tyrrell. She then had a short-lived and unsuccessful partnership with RAM Racing, her best result being 12th at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Race of Champions
In 1974 Lombardi was the first female racing driver to qualify and compete at the Race of Champions in Brands Hatch. She raced a Lola-Chevrolet and finished 14th but wasn't classified. In the 1975 event, she was once again able to qualify and compete with a March-Ford. She was forced to retire after 20 laps.
Lombardi later raced in sports cars with some success. Her best season was in 1979 when she won the 6 hours of Pergusa and the 6 hours of Vallelunga. She also competed four times at the 24 hours of Le Mans, her best result being in 1976 when she finished 9th in a Porsche Carrera.
Lombardi had also started in NASCAR driving in the Firecracker 400 NASCAR race at the Daytona International Speedway in 1977. There were two other female drivers in the field: American Janet Guthrie and Belgian Christine Beckers. Lombardi finished 31st.
She is commemorated by a bust in her birthplace Frugarolo.
Complete Formula One World Championship results
|1974||Allied Polymer Group||Brabham BT42||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8||ARG||BRA||RSA||ESP||BEL||MON||SWE||NED||FRA||GBR
|1975||March Engineering||March 741||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8||ARG||BRA||RSA
|Lavazza March||March 751||ESP
|Frank Williams Racing Cars||Williams FW04||USA
|1976||Lavazza March||March 761||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8||BRA
|RAM Racing with Lavazza||Brabham BT44B||GBR
Formula One non-championship results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1974||ShellSPORT Luxembourg||Lola T330||Chevrolet V8||PRE||ROC
|1975||Lavazza March||March 751||Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8||ROC
(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)
Winston Cup Series
|NASCAR Winston Cup Series results|
- Mariantoni, Luca. "Accadde oggi – 27 Aprile 1975". La Gazzetta dello Sport. RCS. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- Haymarker, forix. "Reference". W8 - Who?. Geza Sury. http://www.forix.com/8w/lombardi.html
- "Pioniere. Lella Lombardi: "Preferisco un incidente che innamorarmi"". ingenere.it. 25 August 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- "Grand Prix Results: Spanish GP, 1975". grandprix.com. Archived from the original on 23 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- NASCAR Winston Cup Profile. http://www.nascar.com/drivers/dps/llombard00/cup/index.html
- "She made her point". motorsportmagazine.com. 28 August 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- Lella Lombardi driver statistics at Racing-Reference