The Red Bull driver led 17 laps during the middle phase of the race, as he stayed out longer than the other frontrunning cars.
While it was hoped that a tyre-life advantage at the end would allow Ricciardo to charge through the field at the end, he was only able to pick off a struggling Valtteri Bottas for fourth, missing out on a farewell podium with the team that nurtured his career into F1.
“It wasn’t the most exciting race,” Ricciardo told TV crews afterwards. “I led a bit, that was fun, but it just put me out of reach then with the leaders.
“I don’t know if we had many options. We could have pitted early and kept track position. It’s always hard to know.”
Race winner Lewis Hamilton was the only frontrunner that pitted under an early virtual safety car period and made his tyres last to the end, and that tyre life for the supersoft compound prevented Ricciardo being able to make more progress.
“Lewis pitted really early, and I don’t think anyone thought that would go to the end so strongly,” said Ricciardo.
“I was just a bit helpless at the end, I couldn’t really do much. The pace advantage [on new tyres] initially was strong then it fell away quite quickly. We just weren’t quick enough.
“I would have loved a podium. I can’t be ecstatic with fourth, to be honest. I was a bit lonely the last few laps. I couldn’t really do much more.”
While Ricciardo was unable to perform his ‘shoey’ podium celebration one last time with Red Bull, he hinted it could take place later in the evening.
“A third and fourth for the team is solid, and we close this chapter now, so thanks to Red Bull and the whole Red Bull family,” he said.
“I would have loved to drink out of my shoe, but we’ll see, there’s still a few hours to go!
“As a whole the time here was good, some amazing memories, and a lot of things I’m sure I’ll reflect on in a few hours.”