during which Vettel, having risen to 14th, ran too close to Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso and swerved wide, hit a bollard and almost hit the barriers.
This further damaged his front wing and he pitted on lap 13, rejoining 22nd to endure a close scrap with Romain Grosjean's Lotus, the Frenchman having re-entred the fray after his eighth opening lap crash of the year.
If it appeared to be ill-fortune for Vettel, it was not as this early stop enabled him to take full advantage as the race unfolded.
Hamilton's superb drive ended on lap 20 when his McLaren lost all power. He pulled up, retiring from the lead for the second time in six races. It was his fifth 'did not finish' of a frustrating year.
Pole-sitter Hamilton's retirement left Raikkonen in the lead while behind Vettel had climbed into the points ahead of the midway pit stops.
As Felipe Massa, Webber and Raikkonen made their stops, Vettel rose to second, taking full advantage of his luck.
As Vettel struggled to hang on on soft tyres his team chose to call him in on lap 38 for a pit stop that saw him rejoin fourth ahead of a multi-car battle for fifth that exploded into another multiple collision on lap 39.
After a chain of minor incidents, Sergio Perez crashed his Sauber into Grosjean's Lotus and, as they spun across the track, Webber was trapped in the carnage.
He hit the Frenchman's Lotus and was forced out with Grosjean. Perez was given a 10-seconds stop-and-go penalty for his rash racing.
All of this required another safety car intervention with Raikkonen in front ahead of Alonso, Jenson Button and Vettel as the teams recalculated strategy, possible tactics and prospects.
After four laps, they resumed with Raikkonen re-seizing control to lead by two seconds and Vettel challenging Button for third with 10 laps to go before passing him on lap 53.
Alonso, in a final push, closed to within striking distance of Raikkonen, but the Lotus man clung on in the final two laps.