The pair were battling for fifth spot on lap 43 of the 56-lap race when Sainz attempted to pass Ricciardo around the outside of a right-handed corner.
The Ferrari made contact with Ricciardo, although neither driver appeared to suffer serious damage.
“That got way too close for comfort for both drivers,” said Sky Sports commentator David Croft.
Sainz was quickly on the team radio, complaining about Ricciardo’s tactics.
“That got a bit dirty, he did that on purpose,” he said.
Croft’s co-commentator, former driver Martin Brundle took the view that it was little more than a racing incident.
READ MORE: Eels sign boom rookie
“It didn’t look too blatant to me, Carlos, taking a bit of a lunge around the outside, I don’t think I saw a lot of relative movement,” he said.
“I don’t think stewards will be too upset with that.”
Speaking after the race, Sainz was in a more conciliarity mood.
“My take is, the guy on the inside does this kind of thing on purpose always to try and squeeze the guy on the outside. I would have done it the same,” he said.
“The thing is it got a bit rough with the contact. I think he could have done it a bit cleaner because I nearly spun. But it’s all good, I would have done a similar thing if I was in his position. It was a good battle.”
Ricciardo’s third top-five finish in four races takes his championship tally to 105 points, leaving him eighth in the title race.
It was a solid weekend for the 32-year-old, who ran fifth for the entire race, apart from the pitstops.
“It was definitely a better weekend, it was a smooth weekend,” he told Sky Sports.
“But there’s still definitely moments in the race where I know I can do better. I still make a few mistakes, not always getting on top of the car.
“It’s coming, but it’s still going to take a little bit more time.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!