The Dutchman looked set to clinch the first pole of his Formula One career on Saturday after dominating all week, but Ricciardo came through at the last to push his colleague back into second.
"I knew it was in there somewhere", he said moments after roaring over the radio in delight.
"Thanks, legends", shouted a wildly happy Ricciardo over the team radio before adding later: "I knew it was in there somewhere - I just knew the pace was in the auto".
"I knew the pace was in the vehicle, Max showed that all weekend from start to finish".
Verstappen was rather less excited.
"The whole qualifying was crap", the youngster told the global television audience. Yesterday we really were struggling.
"The behaviour was not correct", he continued, "we couldn't do anything in qualifying so I had to go forward on the brake balance to try to stabilise the whole vehicle".
Hamilton, who wants to see out the title which will draw him level with Juan Manuel Fangio with a victory, is in striking range of the Red Bulls but, crucially, ahead of his sole rival.
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Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed gave credit to his bowlers and Hafeez-Babar for their crucial partnership. Fast bowlers Billy Stanlake (3-21) and Andrew Tye (3-24) were the main wicket-takers for Australia .
"Hopefully we're in a quicker auto all day".
The German, 70 points behind Hamilton with only 75 to play for, finished fourth, 1.23 seconds slower than the speedy Red Bulls.
In recent weeks, Ricciardo has been beset with a raft of auto issues, with his early retirement from last weekend's U.S. Grand Prix leading Horner to question why Renault was continuing to allow his run of reliability issues given his imminent move from Red Bull in 2019.
"We saw in Japan when Sebastian was behind Max, we saw Sebastian on Daniel in Austin last weekend, it [the Ferrari] is so strong in a straight line".
Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
"It depends how we get away, but I am going to be fighting to gain a position".
Home favourite Sergio Perez, whose laps through the unique stadium section were greeted with rockstar-like cheers, could manage only 13th, two places off Esteban Ocon in the sister Force India.