The small German team had had a solid, if unspectacular 1981 with a point for Slim Borgudd at the British Grand Prix the highlight. For 1982, colourful owner Günter Schmid reorganised the team in a major effort to improve results. Briton Peter Collins was brought in as a team manager and the team expanded again to two cars. This was financed with the signing of well-backed Chilean Eliseo Salazar (who thus got first dibs on any new kit) to partner Manfred Winkelhock who was part of a partnership with BMW that Schmid hoped might lead to an engine deal.
Born in Waiblingen, near Stuttgart, in 1951, Manfred Winkelhock was another of the breed of mechanic-turned-drivers who came to single-seat racing relatively late in life – picked by BMW for their Formula Two youth team on the strength of winning the 1976 German VW Scirocco championship. Winkelhock would drive alongside Eddie Cheever and Marc Surer for BMW and other BMW-powered teams in Formula two, and came fourth in the 1978 and 1980 championships. In 1980, he got his first chance in F1, substituting for the injured Jochen Mass at Arrows, but failed to qualify the car at Monza on his only appearance before returning to F2 and gaining notoriety for spectacularly flipping his car at Quiddelbach on the old Nürburgring. Nonetheless, with backing by BMW, he was able to have another attempt at F1 with ATS at the age of 31.
An up and down 1981 had seen the Chilean start the season with the underfunded and ill-prepared March team before jumping ship to Ensign and doing a little better with a sixth place in Holland. His personal Copec sponsorship made him an attractive target for many teams at the bottom end of the grid, particularly has he was also a reasonably reliable driver who stayed out of trouble. For 1982, ATS came calling as Günter Schmid redoubled his efforts to make a success of the team and Salazar’s sponsorship dollars would be key to the plan.