The Japanese Grand Prix was red-flagged for heavy rain after Carlos Sainz triggered a first-lap safety car.
The Spaniard had lost a position to Sergio Perez on the opening lap before losing control on the run from the hairpin to Spoon in treacherous conditions, spinning to the inside of the right-hand sweeper before crossing across the track and into the barriers.
Pierre Gasly, who started from the pit lane having changed the rear wing of his AlphaTauri under parc fermé conditions, collected a stray advertising board in the aftermath of the collision as visibility worsened deep in the pack.
The start of the race had already been dramatic as pole-sitter Max Verstappen came under threat from Charles Leclerc after a poor getaway, only for the Dutchman to stunningly drive around the outside of the Ferrari driver.
Behind them, Sebastian Vettel made contact with Fernando Alonso, with the Aston Martin driver spinning out and dropping to the back of the field.
Zhou Guanyu lost control of his car at the hairpin when attempting an overtake, pirouetting his Alfa Romeo and escaping damage as the lower reaches of the grid passed by.
Alex Albon retired independently of all the incidents, his Williams becoming stuck in second gear at the same points Sainz lost control of the F1-75 and pulling to the inside of the circuit at Spoon.
With the rain intensifying, race control triggered the red flags whilst under safety car conditions at the end of lap two, with Verstappen leading Leclerc and Perez.