As the field barreled down to Turn 1 on the wet track, Vettel moved to the left to cover his position, but sandwiched Verstappen into a fast moving Raikkonen.
Stewards summoned Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen to a meeting after the race.
Red Bull's Australian Daniel Ricciardo was in second place as the safety vehicle was deployed for the 10th year in a row at the Marina Bay street circuit.
Vettel was on pole position, with Hamilton fifth, and everything looked set for the German to retake the overall lead he had surrendered only two weeks earlier at Monza in Italy.
"So there's two, for sure, opportunities and then one potential one if there is a safety auto", he said.
"You will have to manage things for yourself", said his race engineer, rendered helpless by the lack of data.More news: The 10 Best Tweets During The All-Ireland Football Final
Daniil Kvyat, Marcus Ericsson (both accidents), Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen (both mechanical) joined the big names on the DNF list before the end of the race - which was shortened from the scheduled 61 laps to just 58 inside the two-hour time limit by the various safety auto interventions - but there was little drama out front, with the biggest question marks surrounding the point at which it was judicious to move from grooved rubber to slicks.
"I realise that", responded the driver.
"If you are fighting for the title you shouldn't take those risks". We're not in the race and that's a pity, we can't show the pace we have.
He said: "I didn't see that much". "It was not very clever".
"I could see Kimi had a great start so I tried not to defend that as it's a long race but after 200 metres everything was done".
The first lap incident left Verstappen, who has now had seven retirements this season, unimpressed with Vettel.More news: Couple leaves Rs 100-cr asset, daughter to become monks
"The auto was completely destroyed on the left side", the Spaniard said.
The safety vehicle came out again shortly after, as Daniil Kvyat crashed his Toro Rosso.
Hamilton eventually came in for his change on lap 30 of 61, and was a healthy nine seconds ahead after the change.
"Why another safety auto?" It was too little too late for Valterri though as although he closed the gap he wasn't able to overtake Ricciardo.
It made no difference here, as Hamilton won by 4.5 seconds.More news: Stock Price Analysis of RSP Permian, Inc. (RSPP)
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