Nelson Piquet confirmed Renault’s strong presence in Magny-Cours after going quickest in Saturday warm up.
The Brazilian lapped the French Circuit in 1m 15.750, matching team-mate Alonso’s best effort yesterday, and ending the session just ahead of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
The under-pressure Renault driver topped the timesheets early in the session on the hard tyres and was able to keep the top spot, despite a flurry of laps from drivers in the dying minutes on the soft compounds.
Nico Rosberg was forth fastest ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who led the way for Ferrari for the first time this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton wound up seventh quickest behind Toyota’s Jarno Trulli. A mistake in the Imola chicane prevented the Briton from vaunting any higher up the timesheets.
McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was unable to pace any quicker than thirteenth, suggesting that the Finn was running a heavier fuel load than his team-mate.
Sebastian Bourdais, Felipe Massa and David Coulthard completed the top ten, despite all three setting sector times that could have resulted in a higher placing.
The BMW drivers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld meanwhile had a traditionally quiet Saturday morning, the stars of Canada ending the session fourteenth and eighteenth quickest respectively.