Then, again the Red Bull strategists were the fastest to move when a safety auto was called onto the track, pulling the two drivers in and putting the cars on soft tyres to gain a speed advantage for the remaining laps.
The Red Bull came from so far back that the four-time world champion didn't even try to defend and with it Ricciardo started his late charge for victory.
How did Ricciardo do it?
But the safety vehicle threw in a curve ball and Red Bull grabbed their chance.
The second-half dramatics kicked off on Lap 30, with the Scuderia Toro Rosso teammates getting together in the Turn 14 hairpin as Pierre Gasly tried a dive inside of Brendon Hartley.
Ricciardo celebrated his win with his now-trademark "shoey".
Driver of the day: Again, it's hard to go past Ricciardo.
"I don't know what it is, I don't seem to win boring races. They are all pretty fun but that was unexpected".
Red Bull pulled both their cars into the pits, "double-stacking" them and bolting a set of fresh soft tyres on each.
Vettel still leads the season standings with 54 points in three races.
Vettel and teammate Raikkonen grabbed a lockout for Ferrari on the front row to put the pressure on Mercedes. Bottas and Vettel had already passed the pit entry when the safety auto was deployed so could not have pitted.
"This sport's insane. A week ago I was with my head down after two laps on Sunday, frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables that are involved in the sport", Ricciardo said.
Max would get a 10-second penalty but his pace was such that he moved back up to fourth and would only lose out one place to Hamilton, finishing fifth. He apologised to Vettel afterwards.
Vettel heading for a podium position in third on lap 43 when Verstappen slammed into his side on turn 14, sending them both spinning and several places down the race order. Two laps later, he drafted by Vettel for second on the long back straightaway, and took aim at Bottas for the lead from there.
Driver of the dayNo contest this - Ricciardo was stunning in the closing laps.
The two Red Bulls, given their chance by Horner, demonstrated the good (Ricciardo) and ugly (Verstappen) ways to overtake.
Shocker: While it was celebrations for one Red Bull it was disappointment for the other.
Ricciardo is out of contract at the end of this year and weighing his options.
"It was insane. A lot of fun", Ricciardo said of his superior pace over his rivals.
"I think they all start on softs in front of us tomorrow", he noted. He never really threatened to get the win, but he drove quietly and defensively to fend off the challenge of the Red Bulls as best he could, who benefited from their better tyre grip and were ultimately successful.
"What they (engineers) have achieved today is miraculous", he said. I had no pace and was just trying to hold on for whatever I had.