But luck was on his side � his Red Bull Renault�s engine blew up in a spectacular cloud of smoke as he cruised back to his pit at the end of the 57-lap race.
The Duncraig dynamo qualified seventh in his Red Bull, moved to sixth immediately after the start, and had a consistent but fairly lonely drive for the duration.
At the end, he was nearly 20 seconds behind fifth-placed Sebastien Vettel in a Ferrari, and 23 seconds ahead of seventh-placed Romain Grosjean in his Lotus.
Despite Ricciardo being unchallenged for sixth and unable to catch the dominant Mercs and Ferraris up front, there was a lot of overtaking going on in front and behind him.
The eventful race was won by Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes from Ferrari�s Kimi Raikkonen, who got past the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg on the second last lap, while Valtteri Bottas was fourth, for Williams.
Ricciardo�s result moves him up one notch, from eighth to seventh on the driver�s championship table.
The next race, in Spain on May 10, should produce more fireworks as the cars will have gone back to their respective workshops for further development for the first time since the Australian Grand Prix in mid-March.
The Red Bulls are sure to have their engines upgraded and made reliable after a series of mishaps in recent weeks.
Ricciardo used three engines in Malaysia and teammate Daniil Kvyat had an engine blow-up in the same race.