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.
"I don't know, I didn't see that much", Vettel told TV crews when asked to describe the accident. "But I'm still going to be grateful and happy with another podium".
In contrast, Verstappen moved to lay the blame at Vettel's door.
"It's a long race but we are on the wrong side of the track so that doesn't help". "I capitalised on the incident - who would have known that would happen?"
'It doesn't change much, obviously we are not in the race and can't show the pace we have'. "I'm trying", he said afterwards.
Vettel had got around the first corner ahead, but then spun, and with his auto badly damaged he retired from a race for the first time in 2017. The race is a 192-mile contest that will run 61 laps around the track.
"I want to congratulate my team, they did a fantastic job", said Hamilton.
Verstappen, who had started from second, blamed Vettel. Concerned that his team had not taken advantage of a free stop under the SC to recover Kvyat's Toro Rosso, the Briton eventually made just one stop, fewer than all his rivals, as Mercedes made full use of the inters before swapping to ultrasofts on lap 29.
Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo claimed third and Kimi Raikkonen may be called upon to hold up Hamilton, having qualified in fourth, with Valtteri Bottas alongside his fellow Silver Arrow in the third row.
Hamilton surged to the front - with Red Bull's Ricciardo also a beneficiary - and a timely reminder from his team to get the vehicle home in one piece was heeded, making last year's runner-up the heavy favourite for the title with six rounds to go, even after Marcus Ericsson's spin led to another outing from the safety auto.