CONSTRUCTORS: ATS (AUTO TECHNISCHES ZUBEHOR)
Name: ATS (Auto Technisches Zubehor)
Hans Gunther Schmid was a self-made millionaire from Bad Durkheim, who built up a successful alloy wheel business called ATS Wheels. He raced in the early 1970s in Formula Vee and Super Vee, his last race being in 1973 at the wheel of an ATS-sponsored Lola.
At the end of 1976 Roger Penske stunned the Formula 1 world by announcing that his team was withdrawing from Grand Prix racing. That year John Watson had given the team its first victory in Austria with the Geoff Ferris designed PC4, which had been built at the team's base in Poole, Dorset.
Penske put the cars on the market and Schmid bought them. The cars were re-liveried and Jean-Pierre Jarier drove one to sixth place on the team's debut at Long Beach in 1977. He did not score again that year. In the autumn Schmid bought the assets of the March F1 team and Robin Herd and John Gentry reworked the old Penskes which were designated HS1. Jarier started the year with team-mate Jochen Mass but the Frenchman left after Germany. Alberto Colombo, Keke Rosberg, Hans Binder, Harald Ertl and Michael Bleekemolen all drove the cars but without any success. At the end of the year the team produced a new D1 chassis, designed by Gentry which was driven in the last two races of the year by Rosberg.
For 1979 Schmid commissioned Giacomo Caliri to build the D2 which was raced by Hans Stuck. It was not a good car and Schmid soon had Nigel Stroud working on a new one. The D3 appeared in Austria and at the end of the year Stuck scored two points at Watkins Glen.
The D3 reappeared at the start of 1980 with Marc Surer and Jan Lammers driving but it was replaced in South Africa by the D4, which were remodeled versions of the D3 produced by Gustav Brunner and Tim Wardrop. The first car was demolished in a crash in South Africa and Surer broke both ankles. Lammers gave the team a huge boost when he qualified fourth on the grid at Long Beach, although he retired after just a few laps. The Dutchman stayed on until Surer returned but the car never showed the same pace usually qualifying just outside the top 10. As the season went on the team was gradually overtaken by others.
At the end of the year Schmid fell out with his ATS Wheels partner over the F1 program and there was some uncertainty for the future. The team hired former Ligier designer Frenchman Herve Guilpin to design the new car and Lammers was signed to drive. The car was not very competitive and shortly before the European season began team manager Jo Ramirez walking out over Schmid's decision to replace Lammers with Sweden's Slim Borgudd.
The new HGS1 appeared for the first time at the Belgian GP in the hands of Abba-sponsored Slim Borgudd but he failed to qualify for his first four races. Alistair Caldwell was then taken on as team manager and things improved and at Silverstone Borgudd qualified 21st and kept going to finish sixth in the race, albeit two laps down at the finish. That was the highpoint of the season. Borgudd went off to join Tyrrell and ATS hired Manfred Winkelhock (with backing from Liqui Moly) and Eliseo Salazar (with sponsorship from Copec and Viceroy) to drive upgraded versions of the HGS1 - now designated D5 - which had been produced by engineer Don Halliday. At the first race, in South Africa, Salazar qualified a surprising 12th and in the early races the drivers each scored a fifth place. For the rest of the season, however, it was not easy.
At the end of the year Schmid announced that he had reached agreement with BMW for a supply of turbocharged engines for 1983. The team could run only one car for Winkelhock but the news attracted designer Gustav Brunner and team manager Paul Owens. The composite D6 was built in Switzerland and the car was quick with Winkelhock qualifying seventh on three occasions. Reliability was dreadful and Manfred failed to score a point. Brunner stayed on to design the D7 for 1984 but left for Euroracing before the car ran. Development was taken over by Stefan Fober. Winkelhock was again the driver but it was a similar story. A second D7 was built and raced by F1 new boy Gerhard Berger, who finished sixth at Monza, although he was not eligible to score points. Winkelhock was fired soon afterwards and Berger finished the season with the team.