Australian driver Ricciardo's fastest lap time was a 1:18.486s, on super-soft tyres, which was a quarter of a second faster than Kimi Raikkonen's best effort, with the Ferrari 0.234s slower than the upgraded RB13.
Lewis Hamilton was third quickest for Mercedes, 0.372s slower than Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen splitting the Mercedes drivers, pipping Valtteri Bottas for fourth fastest by less than a tenth of a second.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was sixth fastest for Ferrari, but over a second slower than Ricciardo's benchmark time.
Fernando Alonso was an encouraging seventh for McLaren, with team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne narrowly behind in eighth place.
The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by the two Renault drivers, Nico Hulkenberg just over three tenths faster than team-mate Jolyon Palmer, who stopped at the end of the 90 minute session after breaking the front-wing at Turn 4.
Giovinazzi causes a red-flag
The first driver to set a lap was Ricciardo, on soft compound tyres, with his best effort being a 1:21.212s.
This was the only lap-time set in the opening 20 minutes, as teams waited for the track to rubber in before sending their drivers out for runs.
Bottas then came through to post a 1:20.912s time for Mercedes, on then obligatory super-soft Pirelli tyres.
Raikkonen and Vettel then traded the fastest lap time for Ferrari, with the Finn coming out on top, with a 1:20.078s, a little under three tenths faster than his team-mate.
Bottas responded to Raikkonen's time, lapping in 1:20.053s, to go P1 by just 0.025s.
After Romain Grosjean and Vettel had both spun at Turn 9, after getting caught on by crosswinds, Haas Friday driver Antonio Giovinazzi lost the car at Turn 11 and thumped the wall, breaking the left-front suspension, the session was briefly red-flagged to allow the marshals to recover the stricken car.
Mercedes and then Ricciardo
When the session got back underway, Bottas was the first driver to dip under the 1m:20s barrier, with a best effort of 1:19.248s.
This was quicker than Hamilton by 0.128s, but the British driver then improved to a 1:19.095s to slot into P1.
Hamilton then lowered his best time to a 1:18.858s, which was to be his best time of the session.
Ricciardo, out of sequence with the rest of the field, was able to improve his time to a 1:18.852s, which put him in P1, before going on to set a session best time of 1:18.486s.
Raikkonen was able to slot into P2 late on, as Verstappen did the same to P4.
Bad end for Palmer
Needing a clean weekend, Palmer's session went well, until the very end when he ran wide out of Turn 4, running over the kerbs and breaking the front-wing.
This immediately punctured the right-front tyre and although he tried to limp home, he was unable to do so, and stopped out on track.
Vandoorne was eighth for McLaren, but early on, he spun at Turn 2, reporting a loss of power, but was able to restart and get on his way.
Carlos Sainz Jr had brake trouble for Toro Rosso and locked up heavily into Turn 1, while Grosjean complained yet again of the brakes not feeling good.
Pascal Wehrlein received the wooden spoon for the session, ending up 4.004s slower than Ricciardo for the Sauber team.
|1st||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:18.486s|
|4th||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.676s|
|12th||Sergio Perez||Force India||+2.088s|
|13th||Danill Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+2.294s|
|14th||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||+2.431s|
|17th||Alfonso Celis Jr||Force India||+3.116s|