The little AGS team had had a trying 1988; Philippe Streiff usually qualified well but was almost always let down by reliability issues and the hazards of mixing it in midfield and only finished four times. The team had other problems too – the Bouygues construction group had come in with lavinsh sponsorship at the start of the year and promised a new factory outside Gonfaron, but had pulled out after work had started and left owner Henri Julien in a bit of a financial hole. Millionaire businessman Cyril de Rouvre – who had inherited his business empire when his father was murdered by his own valet. AGS were another team using a modified 1988 car at the start of the season, with Philippe Streiff continuing on driving duties alongside newcomer Joachim Winkelhock, brother of the late Manfred, as de Rouvre expanded to two cars.
40. Philippe Streiff (right)
Streiff had struggled valiantly with the AGS in 1988 after a successful 1987 with Tyrrell, and had particularly impressed at the Canadian Grand Prix where he qualified 10th and mixed it with Nelson Piquet for fourth before breaking down. At the next race in Detroit he even succeeded in passing the reigning champion before breaking down again. He was hoping that the 1989 car wouldn’t be as fragile.
41. Joachim Winkelhock (left)
Jo followed his older brother Manfred into racing and was progressing in the junior formulae when his brother’s death in 1985 stalled things. By the time he returned to racing, he was unusually old, winning the 1988 European F3 cup at 28, but offered a chance to bypass F3000 and move straight into F1 with an expanding AGS team, he jumped at it.