Ricciardo plays the quiet starring role at Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo won his fourth race on Sunday

Daniel Ricciardo won his fourth race on Sunday

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His Red Bull Racing team-mate may be the hottest prospect in Formula 1 at the moment, but Daniel Ricciardo is doing an excellent job of reminding everyone he's still one to watch.

Sunday's win in Malaysia was just desserts for the Australian. Struggling through 2015 with the grossly uncompetitive RB11, this year has been a huge improvement for Red Bull and Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates in Sepang

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates in Sepang

Arguably, the win in Sepang should have been his third of the season, with two snatched from under him earlier this season. In Spain, Max Verstappen's debut with the team, Ricciardo was leading comfortably until his team opted to switch his strategy, handing the win the Dutch teenager. Two weeks later in Monaco, Ricciardo felt he was screwed out of a win when he pulled in to stop for tyres, again while comfortably leading, only to find his pit-crew caught by surprise, gifting the win to Lewis Hamilton. It certainly will have made Hamilton's misfortune, and Red Bull's surprise 1-2 at Sepang easier to accept.

But given his results of late, Ricciardo standing on the top step is hardly much of a surprise at all. In the last six races, the sport's most famous smile was spotted on the podium five times. He sits third in the title race, comfortably best of the rest behind the all-conquering Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Hamilton, and, seemingly, has the beating of hot-shot Verstappen.

He hasn't been a headline stealer either. While Verstappen's driving style has, somewhat unfairly, come under fire from more experienced members of the grid, Ricciardo's performances in the Red Bull out on track have gone under the radar, overlooked by those sniffing out a story at Tilbrook.

While he's almost certain not to win the title this season, though not mathematically out of it with five races still to go, Ricciardo must be one of the big players next season when the regulations are shaken once more in a bid to find a level playing field.

Ricciardo has been on the podium five times in the last six races.

Ricciardo has been on the podium five times in the last six races.