13. ATS-Penske PC4

S3373 ATS-Penske PC4 No.35, Dutch-GP 1977 – Hans Binder

In the mid-seventies the German guy Gunther Schmidt had the idea to found an own Formula 1 team. But Schmidt had neither the know-how nor the necessary material. In the end of 1976 there was an unexpected possibility for the rim-manufacturer to take over a Formula 1 team. Roger Penske was tired of the Formula 1 and offered his whole team for sale. Schmidt immediately bought all the infrastructure. An excellent deal. The Penske PC4 won the Austrian GP in 1976. The car was competitive and a very solid base for the season in 1977. Besides Schmidt could profit from a financial support of the FOCA (Formula 1 Constructors Association) due to the good results of Penske in the previous season. Also this was a clever move. As driver it was chosen the French guy Jean-Pierre Jarier. Jarier was not first choice. Normally, Schmidt wanted to have a German driver. But Hans-Joachim Stuck was not available. He preferred going to Brabham where he replaced the fatally injured Carlos Pace. Jarier came directly from his ski holidays to the first race in Long Beach and could finish 6th place. But the euphoria from the first race slowed down quickly. Besides the inexperience of the mechanics, Schmidt had another problem: How could the PC4 be developed further without the people who constructed it? The team didn’t have a technical director for a longer period and that’s why the car was worse race by race. For the German GP at the Hockenheimring Schmidt set a second car for starting; also if the spare parts were already rare at this moment. The German Hans Heyer failed for the qualifying. But this fact didn’t prevent him to start. How could he manage? Schmidt had many influential friends at the home GP. When the race was started there was opening a gate in the pit wall and Heyer could follow the field – until the shift linkage broke. After this incident Heyer was blocked for the rest of the season. Hockenheim 1977 stayed his only (illegal) GP. For the races in Austria, the Netherlands and Italy the Austrian Hans Binder was the new driver. He was achieving an 8th place in Zandvoort – one highlight for the season. For the races overseas the yellow ones gave up. For the constructors championship 1977 the racing team from Bad Durkheim was listed as Penske. Only in 1978 (with the first own construction) the team was officially named ATS.

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