Daniel Ricciardo was left on his own to defend third place while Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen roared to a memorable victory in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Australian driver Ricciardo came home ahead of battling title contender Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari to grab his eighth podium of the season.
World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was second for Mercedes, with his teammate Valtteri Bottas in fifth.
“At the start, it looked like Mercedes were struggling,” said Ricciardo.
“I tried to get Bottas as fast as possible, but he defended well – and Seb came really quick at the end.
“I thought he was going to be a handful, but he only had one strong attack and then we were able to pull away.
“I guess it was pretty lonely, but it was hot and physical, so in the end it was nice to get a podium.
“Congrats to Max – he drove great all weekend, and it’s been a good race for the team."
Ricciardo, who started fourth on the grid, consolidated his grip on fourth place in the Drivers’ World Championship.
Dutchman Verstappen, who turned 20 on Saturday, delivered on his promise as identified by the Aussie ahead of the race – Ricciardo having declared him to be the toughest of his teammates to date.
In front of a good showing of both Australian and Dutch fans, Verstappen struggled with neck strain in the final laps and was immediately heard asking for ‘sugary drinks’ after the race.
Ricciardo grabbed him by the neck on the podium to help ease the pain.
“He did a great job,” Ricciardo told interviewer Mark Webber. “He did it on merit.”