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  Article Image gallery (14) D4/06 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Germany
Produced in:1980
Numbers built:4
Designed by:Gustav Brunner
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 11, 2020
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Click here to download printer friendly versionGerman alloy wheel manufacturer ATS entered Formula 1 in 1977 by acquiring the assets of Penske's F1 operation. Liveried in striking yellow colours, the team's cars were mid-field runners and by the end of 1979 the best result was a 5th place finish with the Nigel Stroud designed ATS D3. At the start of the 1980 season, the team fielded a pair of what they called D4s. These were in-fact lightly updated D3s. The all-new D4 was not seen until the South African Grand Prix on March 1st.

Stroud had been replaced as chief designer by Gustav Brunner. Like many of the other designers in F1, the talented Austrian had clearly taken a good look at the 1979 Williams FW07. This Patrick Head design had raised the bar in terms of ground-effect design and proved hugely influential. For the new D4, Brunner followed much the same lines with a narrow monocoque and rocker actuated, in-board front suspension to free up a maximum amount of space for the ground-effect tunnels. Like most Grand Prix cars of the day, the ATS featured a fully-stressed drivetrain that consisted of a Hewland five-speed gearbox and Cosworth DFV V8 engine.

New signing Marc Surer debuted the D4 rather inconspicuously at the South African Grand Prix; destroying the car in the first practice session. Having to heavily pump the fading brakes, his foot slipped off the pedal, sending the car into the wall. The impact was so heavy that Surer suffered badly broken ankles. Having failed to qualify the ageing D3 in South Africa, team-mate Jan Lammers stepped up to a new D4 for the United States West Grand Prix at Long Beach at the end of the month. He qualified an impressive fourth on the grid but a gearbox failure saw him out of the race on the opening lap.

Unfortunately, Lammers' qualifying performance proved a fluke and he could do not better than 12th in the next two Grands Prix. His seat was then taken over by a recovered Surer but this did not make things any better for the ailing team. He even failed to qualify for the Canadian Grand Prix before recording his best finish with the D4 that year at Watkins Glen; eighth. Lammers was back with ATS for the opening rounds of the 1981 season to race the D4 ahead of the introduction of the team's new D5. Again, a 12th place finish was the best he could muster.

Halfway through the 1980 season, Brunner had a falling out with team founder Günter Schmid and subsequently quit the team. His replacement, Hervé Guilpin, would suffer a similar fate and Brunner would return with the team as chief designer again later in the decade. Regardless, ATS remained a mid-field runner throughout its tenure in Formula 1. Of the four D4s built during the 1980 season, two remain.

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  Article Image gallery (14) D4/06 Specifications