While the three leaders were out on the spot, Alonso tried to continue after the resulting safety vehicle, but his McLaren was too damaged and he had to retire.
Fernando Alonso made an fantastic start for McLaren, briefly vaulting as high as third, but was then an innocent victim of the Turn-1 carnage, sustaining vehicle damage that forced him to retire a few laps later.
Ricciardo, who was targeting a dominant weekend for Red Bull after his Friday form, was disappointed to qualify only third with a 1:39.840. "I capitalised on the incident - who would have known that would happen?" The two other retirements - both with technical problems - were Nico Hulkenberg, who had at one point looked set for fourth for Renault, and Haas's Kevin Magnussen.
"So there's two, for sure, opportunities and then one potential one if there is a safety auto", he said.
Lewis is leading the race and the three of us are out.
The Briton's description of how he felt hustling his Mercedes around the streets of the city-state could also apply to his hopes of staying ahead in the championship after Sunday's race.
"I don't know [what happened], I didn't see that much".
After a few laps behind the safety auto, the race resumed for real on lap 7.
Vettel continued with a damaged vehicle but then spun into the wall after turn three in an impact that removed the front wing and nose. I saw Max and then the next thing I see is Max and Kimi hitting me somewhere.
Slow off the line, Vettel moved to his left to cover Verstappen but pushed him into Raikkonen, who had got off to a flying start and was passing the Dutchman.
The FIA said it will investigate the accident after the race.
The safety vehicle came out again shortly after, as Daniil Kvyat crashed his Toro Rosso. 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.