James Allen wrote:One interesting observation is that Red Bull has a setting on the engine, whereby the ignition is retarded on the over run, which maintains exhaust gas pressure even when the driver lifts off the throttle. This maintains the performance of the blown diffuser and keeps the downforce up when it’s most needed. It’s not something you can do for more than a lap or two as it damages the engine, but it gives that vital fraction of a second which keeps Red Bull ahead of the rest in qualifying.
Could this be the secret to RB's Q3 pace? No doubt they have a quick car, but they always seem to pull out a bit more in Q3 and this provides a credible reason without resorting to trick suspension, frozen honey, etc. They have a special engine map providing them with more downforce at critical times thanks to the exhaust blown diffuser, but they are only able to run this for a lap or two otherwise they'll damage the engine.
This would explain beautifully why Red Bull dominate Q3 but then fall back in the race. No doubt there are other factors, but I could believe that this was the largest factor involved