He starts the race 70 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who qualified in fourth place.
"As soon as we got into qualifying, we knew straight away with the way the vehicle was feeling, I was like "OK we're in a much stronger position to fight for positions".
Ricciardo's effort set up what could be his last chance to win for Red Bull.
Vettel delivered his best drive since the summer break on Sunday, but it was a case of too little, too late for the German, whose championship challenge has been defined by a series of mistakes.
Boston gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger killed in prison
Penitentiary Hazelton in West Virginia after being transferred from an Oklahoma City prison on Tuesday (October 30). He went on the run with his girlfriend Catherine Greig, ending up in Santa Monica, California .
"It's a fantastic title number and I'm so happy for Lewis and the team, but it's bittersweet - we have had a very bad race and we need to understand it".
Australian Red Bull driver Ricciardo started the day on pole but immediately lost ground after a dud start, before apparent engine failure eight laps from the finish ended his race.
"There's nothing left guys, these tyres are dead", Hamilton said after running off the track on lap 47.
"Mercedes and my team have just been the most incredible unit and worked to raise the bar".
"Red Bull seem out of our reach at the moment, Ferrari are right there with us..."
In contrast, Vettel was flying, and after passing Ricciardo, he was straight on to Hamilton's Mercedes. "Everything feels hopeless. You know, honestly, now where I am, I don't see the point of coming on Sunday, I don't see the point of doing the next two races".
Notorious mob boss ‘Whitey’ Bulger killed in West Virginia prison at 89
They lived as Charlie and Carol Gasko in Santa Monica, in what Bulger would later describe as a "16-year honeymoon". Carney that he regretted never marrying Greig, who abandoned her old life to join the FBI-wanted mobster in hiding.
The Dutchman was clearly frustrated by the result, deliberately bumping the second-place board with his vehicle as he arrived on the start-finish straight, and then bemoaning problems with his Red Bull machinery.
Max Verstappen claimed the victory, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen filling the podium.
"We were really quick, then today I was just determined to have a good start".
Ricciardo, who leaves the team for Renault next year, offered his vehicle to replacement Pierre Gasly early, claiming he was "done with it" and it was "cursed".
His hard work was in vain, however, as the Spaniard could only manage 12th fastest between the two Force India cars of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, both deciding to use the slower ultrasoft in Q2 and will start 11th and 13th as a result.
But Hamilton took the chequered flag in fourth to secure the championship with two rounds to spare.
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Numerous players posted social media tributes to a man they had affectionately referred to as " the boss ". Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, the Algerian confirmed the gesture was for his former chairman.