The Russian executed a brilliant restart after the late safety car period at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, making full use of his soft tyres to move up from seventh to fourth in just half a lap.
He not only got his getaway spot on by moving past Sergio Perez and Alex Albon on the run down to the first chicane, but also executed a decisive move around Leclerc at Piratella to give himself a shot of a podium finish.
Speaking to Motorsport.com about the secrets to his restart, Kvyat said he knew immediately before the racing got underway again that he could not hesitate in making his moves.
“I knew I had a bit of a warm up advantage over those guys with the hard tyres, and I had to use it immediately otherwise they would warm their tyres up,” the AlphaTauri driver explained.
“So I basically just tried to get as good an exit as possible out of last corner, and get the good slipstream.
“I saw that Sergio was hesitating a bit where to go and then he went to the right. I said: ‘okay, I'll take more slipstream out of Alex's car and try and go to the left.’
“I was hoping he wouldn't make any strange moves because it could be very like costly at that speed. It was very tight and there was not a lot of space in there, but I managed to have a good braking into Turn One.”
After getting past Perez and Albon, Kvyat set about closing down and getting past Leclerc, knowing he had to pounce quickly if he was going to capitalise on his tyre advantage.
And while the high-speed Piratella corner is not an obvious place for overtaking, Kvyat said he could not waste the opportunity that came up as he picked up the Ferrari slipstream on the climb out of Tosa
“Sometimes you have to invent things a bit,” he said about the decisive Leclerc move. “I knew that he [Leclerc] didn't have as much confidence as me, because his tyres were colder. And I said, ‘let's see how he's going to react.’
“I had a good run out of Tosa. I tried to prepare as good an exit as possible out of there, and I got a good traction.
“I used a bit of boost and good slipstream. It was a very short slipstream, but good. And then I just tried to brake a bit later than him. I saw that he braked earlier than me and I thought if I leave him enough space on the inside, I'll make it. That's exactly what happened. And also, you can trust certain drivers a bit with these kind of things.”
Kvyat’s move past Leclerc put him in touch with Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was running third at the time.
But his chances of challenging the Renault diminished as Kvyat needed to recharge his battery pack, plus his Australian rival was able to get his hard tyres up to temperature.
“I had used quite a lot of battery by that point,” he said. “So when I got to Daniel, I had to start a bit more charging, and there were a couple of laps where I had to wait.
“Then I started putting pressure on him again, but he managed to warm up his tyres while I was battling with other guys. The Renault has good straight line speed as well and it was a tough one. Maybe with more laps, it could have been possible.”
Even though Kvyat ran out of laps to overtake Ricciardo and take a podium finish, he still says his fourth place was a good result as AlphaTauri aims to close in on Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
“When I was crossing the line, I wasn't putting my hand in the air or anything like that, because I was still pretty focused on Daniel and trying to get him,” he said.
“Of course, then a few metres after, I also thought about it and it was a strong race. Then I was happy, of course, with the result.
“I looked back at my overtakes after the restart, and it was good feeling.”