The Australian turned in a vastly improved performance to claim seventh on the grid at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and out-qualify team-mate Lando Norris.
Ricciardo, however, was unable to launch a final attack on the top five due to traffic and with Norris also experiencing a roadblock at the final chicane in Q1, the situation was likened to the scenes on show at Monza in 2019.
"It is what could have been because on the last run we ran out of time," Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1. "It was a little bit of a Monza scenario from a couple of years ago.
"I think it was only a tenth to fourth and a tenth is always there, especially when I am still trying to get on top of the car but nevertheless, a much better day. Happier, even from yesterday and progress means positivity."
Ricciardo has been made well aware of the incubation period experienced since his move from Renault over the winter and is pleased to finally relieve that pressure.
"It is funny, the narrative has been that I have taken time to get up to speed and all the while Lando has been driving exceptionally well," he added.
"These two factors have been challenging so from that note it has been a more positive day."
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