Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen wiped out in first lap carnage

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The German had started on pole position on a wet track but retired with a badly damaged vehicle in an incident that also claimed Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Vettel's championship rival Lewis Hamilton, three points ahead in the overall standings, qualified his Mercedes only fifth.

Ricciardo avoided opening-lap mayhem to slot in second behind Lewis Hamilton, but while Red Bull looked considerably faster than Mercedes for most of the weekend, the Australian couldn't mount a victory challenge.

"I don't know, I didn't see that much", Vettel told TV crews when asked to describe the accident.

"Looking forward to what we can do tomorrow, I think it's really on the cusp of one or two stop so it's going to make it exciting". But no driver was deemed responsible and no further action was taken.

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"Obviously we are not in the race, that's a pity, we can't show the pace that we have".

"I saw this commotion happening", Hamilton said.

"I was very relieved when I crossed the line", he said later.

With three safety auto interruptions, the race ended with 58 of the 61 laps completed after hitting the two-hour mark. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner defended Verstappen, who had started on the front row with Raikkonen behind in fourth place.

"We are in a position that we don't like to be with P5 and P6, but this provides opportunities, strategic opportunities, and our vehicle was very good on the softs", he said.

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"I had an average start and then went to the left trying to fend off Max and the next thing I get a bump on the side and see Kimi's auto". Remarkably, Alonso was able to continue despite his McLaren having effectively been disembowelled, with entrails hanging from its left hand side, and ran just outside the points until the inevitable happened on lap nine and he was forced to retire.

Daniil Kvyat put his Toro Rosso into the Turn 7 wall amid tricky conditions on Lap 11, and Marcus Ericsson crashed his Sauber on the Anderson Bridge on Lap 38.

Valtteri Bottas, the teammate of Hamilton managed to get the sixth place.

"Why another safety vehicle?" a clearly annoyed Hamilton said.

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