PEOPLE: MICHEL COSTA
Name: Michel Costa
Michel Costa studied mechanical engineering at the Center d'Etudes Superieures des Techniques Industrielles and in 1972 joined Chrysler France to work as a development engineer at the company's test center. He became its manager and stayed there until 1980 when he decided that he wanted to go racing and designed and built his own Formula Renault car. This led to an invitation to join the AGS as assistant designer to Christian Vanderpleyn and the two worked together throughout the early 1980s as the team raced in Formula 2 and planned an F1 program. Money was a problem but in 1986 the AGS-Motori Moderni JH21C - the first F1 car - was built up around an old Renault Sport monocoque which the team had acquired. The car was revised in 1987 as the JH22 and, fitted with a Ford Cosworth engine, things began to improve.
In 1988 the JH23 was a lot better but in August that year Costa, Vanderpleyn and team manager Frederic Dhainhaut quit the team en masse to go to work for Enzo Coloni in Italy. Vanederpleyn and Costa designed the Coloni C3 which was driven by Roberto Moreno and Pierre-Henri Raphanel. The car was not bad but with pre-qualifying necessary it rarely made it into the races and at the end of the year the three Frenchmen departed Coloni.
In the course of 1989 AGS was sold to French businessman Cyril de Rouvre and in the autumn he hired Costa as technical director. Costa designed the JH25 for the 1990 season and while the team moved into a purpose-built factory at the Circuit du Luc things started to go wrong despite the fact that the JH25 did eventually manage to escape pre-qualifying on occasion, notably in Spain where Yannick Dalmas went on to finish ninth.
De Rouvre was running short of money and beginning to lose interest and in 1991 Costa's JH26 was not built, the team being forced to rely on the old JH25s. The team eventually went into receivership and was bought by Italians Patrizio Cantu and Gabriele Raffanelli who immediately replaced Costa with his old colleague Vanderpleyn.
Costa remained involved in the sport working, in the late 1990s, with Gerard Larrousse in a sportscar program.