After a rain shower hit the track with 25 minutes to go before lights out, all drivers opted to start the race on intermediate tyres in the low grip conditions.
While polesitter Lewis Hamilton managed to retain his lead, Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas misjudged his braking into Turn 1, losing control and running into the rear of McLaren’s Lando Norris.
This sent Norris into the path of Hamilton’s title rival, Max Verstappen, who was also hit, while Bottas’s car ran into the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc also clashed, sending McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo into a spin.
The race was quickly placed behind the safety car before the red flag was eventually thrown due to debris on the track, with all cars returning to the pit lane.
Bottas, Perez, Stroll and Leclerc have all retired from the race, while Verstappen had lost the bargeboard on the right-hand side of his car.
Under the red flag, Hamilton is the leader ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, with Sebastian Vettel sitting third for Aston Martin.
Williams drivers Nicholas Latifi and George Russell both moved into the top 10 through the chaos, sitting sixth and eighth, while Mick Schumacher lies P10 for Haas.
As seen under the last red flag at Silverstone, teams are permitted to complete repairs under the red flag, giving Red Bull a chance to patch up Verstappen’s car. He will take the restart in 13th place.
McLaren was quick to wheel Norris’s car back into the garage, with a large chunk of the floor on the left-rear of the car visibly missing.
But the team informed FIA race director Michael Masi via the public radio that it had to retire the car under the red flag, reducing the race to 15 cars.
The stewards swiftly confirmed that the Turn 1 incidents were under investigation.
Race control announced that the grand prix is set to resume in approximately 15 minutes from 1518 local time.