Ferrari upheld its comfortable advantage in second free practice ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix, as Felipe Massa took over the mantle from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to leave McLaren well and truly in the shade at Magny-Cours.

Massa was fastest throughout the 90-minute session - at times by up to 1.5seconds - though the Brazilian's eventual margin of dominance over Raikkonen was just over three hundredths of a second following a late spin, and still a tenth off the Finn's morning best.

This time the biggest surprise of proceedings was seeing the Scuderia Toro Rossos of Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi up in third and fifth positions, the former just three tenths shy of the leading pace and both within half a second in substantially the outfit's most competitive showing to date.

Lewis Hamilton spared some of McLaren's blushes by bouncing back from mechanical woes in the morning session to split the two STRs in fourth, despite a re-occurrence of his earlier problem. Team-mate and reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso, though, was all the way back in eighth at the close after skating wildly off-piste at Imola.

Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard was again up at the sharp end in sixth, but team-mate Mark Webber was rather less fortunate, stopping out on-track with mechanical gremlins mid-session and ending up down in 16th.

Williams' Nico Rosberg was well inside the top ten once more in seventh, with Anthony Davidson a strong ninth for Super Aguri and Ralf Schumacher sending out a message to employers Toyota in tenth.

Giancarlo Fisichella would up eleventh, a seven-place improvement on his earlier showing but still far from what Renault will be hoping for in their home grand prix, with Robert Kubica twelfth, Alex Wurz 13th, Jarno Trulli 14th and Jenson Button struggling again back in 15th.

Renault ace Haikki Kovalainen failed to make much progress in 17th spot, just ahead of Honda's Rubens Barrichello and a curiously off-colour Nick Heidfeld who failed to complete many laps. Takuma Sato, Adrian Sutil and Christijan Albers brought up the rear.

 

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