And while Ricciardo believes Mercedes may have too much pace to be challenged for victory - at least in normal conditions - he is anticipating a tense fight for the final step of the podium between himself, Verstappen and the Ferraris.
“First time - it sucks,” said Ricciardo after qualifying fourth, one place behind Verstappen. “It sucks getting beaten anyway, but obviously I would have loved to go through a perfect season.
“I thought we missed a few bits today, especially in the low-speed last chicane, which was a bit of an Achilles heel. We didn’t get 100 percent out of it.
“But it’s cool, it keeps it close and competitive - and tomorrow is the points, so we will try and maximise that and get on the podium. That’s my target.
“Mercedes look to be very quick, which I’m not too happy about, but I think Ferrari will give us a run for our money in the race. Third is up for grabs, so you’ll definitely see a race - I'm not hanging about…”
Honours have been evenly split between Ricciardo and Verstappen since the latter moved to the team ahead of May's Spanish Grand Prix - Verstappen has finished higher than his team mate three times in five races, and scored 59 points to the Australian's 52 over the same period.