"We had three runs and I was just punching a hole for everyone and I think if you get one run fair enough, each..."
That meant Ricciardo was giving the 20-year-old Dutch driver, who is seen by many as a future world champion, the benefit of a "tow" while the Australian's vehicle took the aerodynamic hit.
Much has been said of his "aggressive" driving style but he silenced his critics, for now.
It was hard session for McLaren as Fernando Alonso finished 17th and Stoffel Vandoorne 18th, with the latter damaging his front wing as he hit the curb at Turn 9.
Last year's victor in Austria was Bottas, driving for MercedesAMG. It gave me that five or six seconds.
Hamilton then opened up a 2.4 seconds lead as the field was stretched on the tight, short track.
Renault's Nico Hulkenberg was the first retirement, with his engine spewing a cloud of smoke and flames.
Three laps later, the luckless Bottas was also forced to abandon, pulling off to park his Mercedes.
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Asked whether he still felt like he had been stitched up by Red Bull, Ricciardo replied: "During the heat of it all, I thought so".
"That was perhaps the most apprehension that I had in the last 25% of the race".
After a virtual safety vehicle period began following the retirement of race Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, which took place as a result of a hydraulics issue on lap 14, Verstappen, who was running in second place at the time, led a group of cars into the pits.
Mercedes' chief strategist, James Vowles, immediately apologized to Hamilton over the board radio for the mistake.
Vettel now has 146 points to Hamilton's 145 after nine rounds and with the Briton's home race at Silverstone next weekend.
Verstappen stormed off the grid in hot pursuit of a leading pair of Silver Arrows and Kimi Raikkonen, first over-running poleman Valtteri Bottas before edging ahead of the Ferrari when the Finn ran deep into Turn 3.
"I don't get it guys. We've just thrown away a win", said Hamilton. Verstappen had slight blistering, but Hamilton's left rear was a mass of blistered rubber.
Ricciardo then pitted at the same time Vettel squeezed beyond Hamilton on the 39th of the 71 race laps. "Arguably a match to Mercedes in the race, but we need to make sure that we keep pushing and improving because in qualifying we are falling back a little bit at the moment so there's plenty for us to do".