Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives (commonly known as AGS) are a former motor racing constructor which competed in F1 from 1986 to 1991. AGS were among the back-markers in most races, picking up just 2 points in 80 races.
AGS was founded by French racing driver Henri Julien although only a mediocre racing driver, Julien had an advanced knowledge of technical skills and originally worked on Formula 2 cars as a mechanic and in 1967 became a mechanic for the Matra F1 team which remained at until 1968. In 1969 Julien created a Formula France team called Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives along with his first car, the AGS JH1 chassis which was designed by his former apprentice Christian Vanderpleyn and now team technical director. After much success in Formula France, the team moved up to the European series of Formula 3 where they had some quite successful times but could not defeat the dominant Martinis which dominated the sport in those days.
In 1978 AGS moved up a level again now entering Formula 2 however failed to score any points in the 1978-79 seasons. However the team was one of the only private teams to be running their own cars which at that time where still run by Vanderpleyn. The early 80s were better for the team managing to get a grip of their surroundings and score points regulary between 1980 and 1984.
In 1985 AGS moved to Formula 3000, one under Formula 1 however Julien wasn't happy with the rules and regulations of the series and decided to move out of the sport at the end of the season however the following year he announced his small team would be moving up into Formula 1.
Their entry was a slow a long process and the car took over 6 months to build however the car was finally ready in the latter half of the season, the team would be using Motori Moderni engines. Italian Ivan Capelli was signed for the team however he would be the only driver opposed to two, Didier Pironi was supposed to take the second seat but was still deamed unfit to race after his terrible crash in 1982. Other than Capelli the team only consisted of 7 members, 5 mechanics with Henri Julien as team principal and Christian Vanderpleyn as technical director. The AGS JH21 model was unrealiable and Capelli never finished a race that season, it was a disappointing start to the teams F1 career.
For 1987 Capelli left the team and so AGS signed Pascal Fabre for the season. Managing to build the new JH22 model intime for the first race of the season this time. AGS signed with Ford as their new engine dealer which proved much more reliable and Fabre managed to finish regularly in the top 10 however points finishes never came. But by the second half of the season the teams pace dropped off with Fabre not managing to qualify three times towards the seasons end frustratingly so AGS replaced him with Roberto Moreno for the last two races of the season. Overall it was a strong year for the team with only 3 non finishes and 1 point in Australia where Moreno finished 6th.
For 1988, Phillipe Strieff would be racing the new JH23 chassis where he signed for a three year deal with the team. It was a year to forget on many accounts for the team the car was extremely unreliable and Strieff rarely finished due to accidents and reliability issues. However worse was yet to come, French Bouygues the teams main sponser which was a major donator to the team and it's factory in Gonfaron. France announced it would not be renewing it's contract with the team for the following season. With no money to ensure the teams survival Henri Julien sold the team to fellow Frenchman Cyril de Rouvre. Julien retired from motor racing and Christian Vanderpleyn who was offered to stay with the team for the following season denied the request and moved to Coloni, he was replaced by Hughes de Chaunac.
Although it was thought that AGS would now improve under the new management it didn't not by far. Phillipe Strieff who was still employed with the team for the 1989 season was paralysed when he crashed the new AGS car during a pre-season test. He was replaced by Gabriele Tarquini and alongside him was Joachim Winkelhock. Winkelhock was so slow that he failed to even make it out of the pre-qualifying once that season so at the mid way point he was replaced by Yannick Dalmas however he faired no better and he to failed to make it out of Pre-Qualifying. Tarquini managed to qualify in every single race he participated in up until the mid way point of the season where he even managed to score a point in Mexico however the second half of the season was dreadful for him to and neither Tarquini or Dalmas made it out of pre-qualifying.
In 1990 the team remained with the squad of Tarquini and Dalmas partnered again they both managed to qualify for the races on several accounts but most races that year they failed to qualify or pre qualify. The team also in this year moved to Cosworth engines after three years with Ford. By the end of this year the team was struggling and once again the team was near broke and there was major doubts of it being able to stay on the grid for the following season.
After realising he was not going to be able to produce a car for the 1991 season Cyril de Rouvre sold the team to Italians Patrizio Cantu and Gabriele Raffanelli, Tarquini remained with the team but Dalmas was replaced by Stefan Johansson, a highly successful 80s driver however after just two races Johansson left the team after failing to qualiy for the first two races, Fabrizio Barbazza replaced him, this was the teams worst year so far and even under the new management the team struggled Tarquini only managed to qualify for three races while Barbazza none worst was to come when the teams star driver Tarquini left the team at the Spanish Grand Prix, he was replaced by Olivier Grouillard however the following race he failed to qualify also and so just before the Japanese grand Prix the team announced they would be leaving F1 since the team could barely compete properly in the sport and also quit all motor racing activities.
Although no longer a racing team in 1992 Cantu and Raffanelli converted the former team racing factory in Gonfaron France into an F1 Driving School where AGS has survived to this day, team founder Henri Julien also returned to the team in 1992 and was made the Honourary President of the school.
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