Although it knew that Takuma Sato was facing a back of the grid slot for the French Grand Prix after his yellow flag misdemeanour in the USGP, Super Aguri would have hoped to get at least one of its cars through into the second qualifying session.

Instead, Anthony Davidson joined his team-mate in the bottom six of another closely-contested session after missing the chequered flag by a second as he warmed up for his final run. The drop zone population changed on a regular basis once the late starters had posted the first flying laps, and the Briton was eventually joined by Sato, both Spykers, Alex Wurz and Tonio Liuzzi, the Italian being dumped in at the last gasp by Red Bull stable-mate Mark Webber.

Wurz, too, will have hoped to have escaped the clutches of the bottom six after working on his qualifying technique in testing, but muffed his final run in the opening sector and had to settle for 17th.

Lewis Hamilton built on his morning practice performance to claim fastest lap at 1min 14.805secs, heading the two Ferraris and McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, who looked like a man to have missed out on valuable track time in the morning session. Heikki Kovalainen and Webber completed the top six.