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Formula 1

The Formula 1 world championship was started in 1950. Italy's Giuseppe Farina won the first race (the British GP) and the first world championship.

 

Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio is possibly the greatest driver of all time. He won five world championships (1951, 1954-57) and took an astonishing 24 victories in his 51 races - the best conversion rate in history.

 

Fangio's tally of 5 world championships has been exceed by Germany's Michael Schumacher who has won the title 7 times (1994-95). Schumacher also holds the record for the most race wins (84), most fastest laps (69), maximum race wins in a season (13 in 2004), fastest to win a championship (after 11 out of 17 races in 2002), most points in a season (148 in 2004) and largest victory margin in a season (67 points in 2002).

 

One record that still eludes him is the maximum pole positions. He is currently 2 behind Ayrton Senna's record of 65 poles.

 

Another record that he is unlikely to beat is the 9 successive race wins that Alberto Ascari managed in 1952-53. Schumacher came close in 2004 winning 12 of the first 13 races, managing 5 and 7 successive race wins.

 

Graham (1962, 1968) and Damon Hill (1996) of England are the only father-son pair to win the world championship.

 

Jacques Villeneuve's (world champion in 1997) father was one of the great F1 drivers. Giles won 6 races in his career and was killed in practice for the Belgian GP at Zolder in 1982. Legend has it that Enzo Ferrari, the patriarch of the Ferrari team was devastated by the loss and that he kept a photograph of Giles on his mantelpiece until his death.

 

John Surtees is the only man to win world championships on both two and four wheels. He won the F1 world championship in 1964, and won the motorcycling TT championship 11 times.

 

Golf

St. Andrews - or rather The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews - is the home of golf. The Old Course at St. Andrews has been in use for over 500 years, probably the oldest sporting venue still in use today.

 

The Augusta Masters is the only major that is held at the same venue every year. The Open Championship (incorrectly referred to an the British Open) is always held at a links course.

 

Jack Nicklaus has the record for the most majors won - 18. Tiger Woods, the greatest player of his generation has already won 10 majors and is still only 29 years old.

 

Every 2 years the US players Europe for the Ryder Cup, the most highly regarded team trophy in golf. Initially it was played between the US and Great Britain & Ireland, but due to the US's sustained dominance the rest of Europe was also included.

 

The women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup is the Solheim Cup. The equivalent competition for men's amateurs is called the Walker Cup.

 

Other Sports

Walter Lindrum is probably the greatest billiards player of all time. He won the world champioship in 1933 and held it until he retired in 1950. Naturally a right-handed player, he played left-handed due to a childhood injury. He held 57 world-records, many of which still stand. His break of 4137 in 1932 scored in just under 3 hours is still a world-record.

 

Oskar Schindler (of 'Schindler's List' fame) was a good motorcycle racer. Racing at the Altvater in Germany in 1928 he nearly beat the German champion Walfred Winkler, but he stopped a lap early thinking that the race was over.

 

Bob Mathias of the US won the Olympic gold at the Decathlon at the 1948 Olympics aged just 17. He then retained his Olympic gold in 1952.

 

Steffi Graf, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, was once dating a racing driver called Michael Bartels. It was public knowledge that Steffi was concerned about the dangerous nature of the sport. As it turned out Bartels only started in 4 F1 races, and didn't qualify for any of them.
 

Despite the fact that it is played only in North America, the NBA is remarkably popular in a number of countries. Dirk Nowitski of Germany and Yao Ming of China are the most popular sportsman in their countries despite the fact that they play their sport so far away from home. 

The America's Cup is the  most prestigious trophy in the sport of yachting, and is the oldest active trophy in international sports, having started in 1851.


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