The incident brought out the safety vehicle and allowed Hamilton into a lead he would keep through two more safety auto periods and a perfectly-timed switch to dry weather tyres.
"We have a long race and a lot of things can happen".
Ferrari blamed Verstappen, while Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the 19-year-old was a victim "of somebody else's accident".
That cost Hamilton his 10-second advantage over Daniel Ricciardo but as the race became a countdown to the cut-off time, the Mercedes driver held on to take an invaluable 25 points. "Who would have known that would happen", Hamilton said.
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Arsenal have won just two of their last 21 games against sides who also finished in the top six last season. The Gunners have lost both away games this season, including the 4-0 humiliation at Liverpool.
"But I think Lewis, with where he was on Friday and where he is now, can hang on to the group".
Having started from fifth, on one of the toughest tracks in Formula One for overtaking, Hamilton could not believe his luck. I hoped I would get to race Sebastian at the beginning.
Pole-sitter Vettel, who had been looking to reclaim the world championship lead from Hamilton, spun further ahead and lost his front wing, a crash that also ended his race.
The FIA stewards announced that the startline incident was under investigation, with a ruling expected after the race. "I'm sure there will be more opportunities".
The race was far from over for Hamilton however, with rain falling intermittently and Marcus Ericsson's crash forcing the safety auto to return on lap 38.
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With three safety auto interruptions, the race ended with 58 of the 61 laps completed after hitting the two-hour mark.
The Ferrari driver spoke to the media about the first lap incident after retiring, he said: 'I didn't see that much.
"Initially Sebastian saw I was a little bit better off the line than him and he wanted to close me off, and maybe didn't see Kimi on the left", Verstappen said.
The safety auto came out again shortly after, as Daniil Kvyat crashed his Toro Rosso.
While Alonso was eventually forced to retire, this drive offered a reminder of why McLaren have been so desperate to keep him.
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He also would not state how long and how much of the building was without power, saying it was part of the criminal investigation. She adds that utility providers have said they hope to have power restored for all of southeastern Florida by the weekend.