Ricciardo, second on the grid, snatched the lead from Mercedes' Nico Rosberg at the start, but suffered a left-rear puncture on the third lap which forced him to make an early pit stop - a setback which was magnified by a subsequent safety-car period that dropped him even further down the field to 17th.
From there, however, he fought back superbly, pulling off a string of sensational passes - including one on defending champion Lewis Hamilton - to rescue fourth place, finishing just six seconds off team mate Daniil Kvyat in the final podium spot.
“There was some incidents on the first lap so I saw some debris, but it didn’t seem like I caught a big bit or anything, so [the puncture] was pretty unexpected,” the Australian explained.
“I guess it was unlucky, and then the safety car put us even further back, so that was a double whammy - it felt like getting punched in the stomach by a heavyweight.
“But from there it was probably the best race of my career."
Ricciardo also hailed the progress made by Red Bull since last season, with the former champions solidifying their grip on third place in the constructors’ standings thanks to Kvyat’s third place.
“Every weekend we’ve shown a strength we didn’t think we would have - we have potential, and [the season] definitely feels more like 2014,” said Ricciardo. “Really promising for sure.
“I felt I could have been spraying champagne, but part of me is still smiling because we’ll get other opportunities.”
Ricciardo has now finished fourth in all three races this year, leaving him third in the championship, just three points behind Hamilton in second.