ATS is remembered not for the results it achieved, but for the ways its unique boss ran the show...and other stories.
During their 89 F1 race career, their results hardly set the motorsport world alight, but 1982 the team showed they certainly had potential. In the Cosworth powered ATS D5, both Salazar (San Marino) and Winkelhock (Brazil) brought their cars home in 5th position. Our ATS merchandise celebrate these achievements.
Hans-Gunther Schmid (1932-2005) might have become Germany’s Ron Dennis or Frank Williams, but for a fatal character flaw. He could never forget that ATS was his team. Delegation was not a strong point, and nor was diplomacy. Anyone with an opinion of his own was shown the door.
||Founded in 1969, ATS specialised in creating high performance, lightweight wheels for Porsche, VW and Mercedes-Benz. Owner Günter Schmid had sponsored various national motorsport events, before realising F1 could be an ideal way of promoting his brand.|
Apart from having a cantankerous, almost Basil Fawlty like team boss who had the knack of upsetting everyone he hired, F1 fans around the world probably remember a few other stories that to this day, keep the memory of ATS alive.
THE GATE CRASHER
At the 1977 German GP, Hockenheimring, German touring car ace Hans Heyer drove for ATS. Heyer failed to qualify but not wanting to miss the opportunity of racing at his home Grand Prix, he famously rolled his car onto the starting grid while the track marshals were distracted. The race organisers only noticed when he retired with a broken gear linkage on Lap 9. He is the only driver to achieve a DNQ, DNF and DSQ in the same race. Heyer never drove in F1 again.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY SPONSOR
When Slim Borgudd made his F1 debut with the ATS team at the 1981 San Marino GP his credentials as a racing driver weren't exactly his biggest claim to fame. Rather the Swede was referred to as ABBA's former drummer, albeit as a session musician who had performed mainly in the recording studio with the famous pop group.
The underfunded Borgudd had learned his trade in F3 from 1976 to 1979, winning the Swedish title in his final year before graduating rather surprisingly to F1 in 1981 with ATS. Perhaps he was a better drummer than driver, but Borgudd held his own on occasion during his ten Grand Prix appearances in '81 and '82, and even finished sixth in his second race at Silverstone!
SHOCKING PIQUET KUNG FU
While the team were improving, they were midfielders more than anything else. Indeed, the team's most high-profile moment came when Salazar was attacked by Nelson Piquet on live television at the German Grand Prix, the ATS driver having collided with the race-leading Brazilian while being lapped. The Brazilian was left seething having been clipped from behind and with both drivers out of the car, Piquet flew into a fit of rage before stewards could separate the pair.
Nothing has quite earned the right to displace this fight as one of the sport's most iconic.
At the end of 1984, BMW revoked the use of their engines due to the bad PR the team and its owner generated, and Schmid folded the ATS team and left the ATS company.
Having established a new brand of wheels with Rial, Schmid would return to Formula One in 1988 with the team of the same name.
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