Ricciardo was down on power for the majority of the sport’s most famous race by the Mediterranean, but he bravely held off the challenge from Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag.
Vettel, who harassed the Red Bull before conceding defeat in the closing stages of Sunday’s glamorous grand prix, cuts Hamilton’s championship lead to 14 points. Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Mercedes.
Ricciardo has excelled at the principality this weekend, and on the basis of topping every practice and qualifying session before executing a perfect start and his one and only stop for tyres, looked destined to march to glory.
But trouble suddenly struck for the 28-year-old with 50 of this 78-lap marathon race remaining when he reported a loss of engine power.
Vettel was soon all over the back of Ricciardo’s injured Red Bull, and there would be more alarming news to come for the Australian.
Ricciardo was denied a certain victory at the principality two years ago when his team botched up a regulation pit stop, and his triumph hung in the balance for much of the two hours.
But for all of the tracks to nurse a power issue, Monte Carlo would be the venue of choice given its lack of straights, and that is virtually impossible to overtake.
And Ricciardo used all of his know-how and racecraft to keep Vettel at bay. The gap as the German crossed the line was more than seven seconds.
For defending champion Hamilton, it was an unusually quiet race. The Brit spent much of his outing grumbling about his tyres, but he will take comfort from losing only three points to Vettel given this is one of Mercedes’ bogey tracks.
Ricciardo should have been joined on the podium by Max Verstappen, but Sunday’s race was a case of damage limitation from the 20-year-old Dutchman after he started from last place following his practice crash.
Verstappen made an impressive, and crucially error-free start, progressing six places in the opening eight laps before making his way into the points shortly before the midway stage.
He would cross the line in ninth to recover some pride following his fifth major error in the six rounds this season here on Saturday.
There was some late drama when Monaco-born Charles Leclerc crashed into the back of the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley which led to the deployment of the virtual safety car.
Max Verstappen learned a brutal lesson on Saturday when he crashed in final practice and missed out on qualifying for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
The young Dutch tyro was the fastest driver on track at the time he lost control of his car at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex and smashed into the barriers.
His car was wrecked and required extensive repairs involving both pit crews, but it was in vain when the team discovered an oil leak and the need for a new gearbox shortly before the start of qualifying.
His Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo went on to top the final practice and then take pole position with a sensational record-breaking lap.
“Daniel has been on it all weekend, quickest in every section, and he has delivered two great laps capable of pole,” said Horner.
“It feels a bit bitter-sweet, we should have had two cars up there. It is frustrating with such a fast car not to have two cars on the front row.
“Both car crews, Daniel’s as well, did everything they could to make it happen…
“But this place bites hard if you abuse it and Max is a very fast driver, that is in no doubt, and this weekend we have a very fast car and he should have been competing for the front row.
“There is no more brutal lesson than what he has had and hopefully he is smart enough to learn from that.”
Daniel Ricciardo produced a crushing qualifying performance to secure his first pole position in two years for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Ricciardo has been in imperious form all weekend and he saw off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with a record-breaking lap of the Monte Carlo street circuit.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will line up in third after crucially splitting the Ferrari duo with Kimi Raikkonen a place behind.
Max Verstappen should have challenged his Red Bull team-mate for pole, but he failed to complete a single lap in qualifying after crashing out at the high-speed swimming pool section in final practice.
The Dutchman’s mechanics worked furiously to repair the damage on his Red Bull, but they failed to turn his car around in time, and he will start from last place.
Verstappen’s crash in the closing moments of running this morning marked his fifth big error in only six grands prix this season, and his fifth smash in four years in Monte Carlo.
Verstappen sheepishly attempted to console his mechanics, but his accident here will only heighten the pressure on the under-fire 20-year-old.
For team-mate Ricciardo, there were no such concerns with the Red Bull car ideally suited to the most famous streets in motor racing.
The 28-year-old Australian has not put a foot wrong, topping every practice and qualifying session this weekend – the first driver to do so this season – and he will now be the overwhelming favourite to convert his pole into a second victory of 2018 with overtaking virtually impossible.
“We sent a statement in practice on Thursday and we have been quickest in every session,” Ricciardo said. “The race is tomorrow and then we will celebrate.
“There is still a lot of fire in this belly. I’ve done everything I can so far, so let’s finish the job tomorrow. I’m pumped. It’s been a good few days.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team arrived in the principality fearing the worst at one of their bogey venues, but the Briton, 17 points ahead of Vettel, will take huge comfort from qualifying ahead of Raikkonen at a track where overtaking is virtually impossible.
Hamilton was four tenths down on Ricciardo. Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the sister Mercedes.
“I gave it everything I could,” Hamilton, 33, added. “I was up a little bit on the last lap but wasn’t able to hold onto it.
“It’s still a long race ahead of us tomorrow. I don’t think Red Bull have tried the other tyres yet so it will be interesting to see how we all go.”
Esteban Ocon qualified the best of the rest in sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso, who will start from seventh for McLaren.