The Brit was overtaken by Red Bull's Max Verstappen during the fourth lap and although the move itself was a joy to watch, the Dutchman's reaction is better still.
Following yesterday's issues with Vettel, Ferrari's problems continue with Raikkonen suffering a late scare. His Ferrari was wheeled back to the garage, ultimately missing the start, the Finn had qualified in P2.
With teammate and championship contender Sebastian Vettel failing to set a time in qualifying after suffering with a turbo problem, Raikkonen seemed to be struck by an nearly identical problem on his way to the grid on Sunday.
One of the more entertaining, and eventually defining battles on the day was between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the Dutchman overtaking the Mercedes into Turn One on Lap 4 before maintaining a healthy gap.
As the top four entered the final 10 laps of the 56, Vettel set a new race lap record of 1min 33.864sec, smashing Juan Pablo Montoya's 2004 mark of 1:34.223, and was closing fast on Ricciardo's exhaust pipe.
"I gave Max half a tenth!" said Ricciardo when asked what he had got Verstappen for his birthday.
"This year I think we can just stay there or thereabouts".
Dutch fans poured onto the grid to join in the celebrations, with one fan applauding with a pair of clogs. He led comfortably past year but retired with an engine failure. This weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix has been a relatively cool one due to cloud cover on Friday and a qualifying start time of 17:00.
Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton will be hoping they can come up with an overnight solution after the championship leader was only sixth fastest in a second session led by Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel. But I think globally that we don't have the best auto and we've done an exceptional job with what we have.
Hamilton seemed nearly certain to significantly extend his lead at the top of the championship, but a combination of his own lack of pace and Vettel's relentless charge into the top four reduced the impact of the qualifying no-show.
"We have a very strong auto. With a quick auto, you can come back, and overtaking is possible here", Vettel said. "Stroll wasn't looking where he was going!" He completely shunted into my auto.
Happy team: Race victor Red Bull driver Max Verstappen sprays Daniel Ricciardo. He was still 18. Palmer, having just spun to drop him back into the fight, ended up facing the wrong way for the second time in under a lap, which if there ever was a metaphor for his career...
"There is (a fair amount of work still to do) but there's nothing we can do", Hamilton, who was also gifted a win in Singapore two weeks ago when both Ferraris collided at the start, told Sky Sports television.
The Red Bull of birthday boy Verstappen was third, nearly half a second behind Raikkonen. He did a fantastic job.
Hamilton made a clean start - although with no auto next to him on the front row that was hardly difficult.
"I opted to go on the inside".
Verstappen said such a packed schedule and the travelling involves would take a heavy toll on the personal lives of all those involved in F1. I saw Lewis was struggling with traction, and e has more to lose in the championship so I went for it! Valtteri Bottas, unable to overcome Mercedes problems in the way his team-mate did, will start a disappointed fifth.
Vettel drove like someone keen to defy the odds. At this point, Raikkonen was already in his shorts and walking back to the Ferrari motorhome. Vettel tried to pass Ricciardo once more this time with 7 laps left, but the Red Bull held firmly to P3.
"Obviously we had some issue, I dunno what it is exactly, I don't think any of us know right now", said Raikkonen. "But he only had one attack".
Ricciardo's podium finish was his eighth in a season highlighted by his victory in Azerbaijan.
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