All of Formula One's teams struggled to get on the track during the first session of preseason testing on Tuesday following a rules overhaul forcing cars to be thoroughly redesigned.
Hamilton started the day by proudly unveiling Mercedes' new car in the pit lane, but before lunch a technical failure had sent him into the barrier at the Jerez track.
Despite the crash, Mercedes could still boast having one of the most productive opening days as most teams only mustered a few laps, battling with a variety of problems ranging from electrical systems to the tweaks F1 has enforced on the body of the car.
Vettel, the four-time defending champion, couldn't get his new Red Bull out of the garage until the final 15 minutes, managing three laps.
McLaren, coming off a disappointing 2013, didn't get any laps in because of a malfunctioning electrical system. Hamilton emerged unscathed from his crash and said "there is a lot to get used to.''
"It's been, apart from the ending, a positive day,'' Hamilton said. "You are going to have hiccups.''
Kimi Raikkonen debuted in his return to Ferrari, and the Finn clocked the fastest lap at 1 minute, 27.104 seconds and the most laps with 31. But those are poor numbers compared to last year's opening day of testing, when Paul di Resta led the session with 89 laps while all 11 drivers managed faster times than Raikkonen's leading mark this year. The circuit was eerily silent for long stretches, and as Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg pointed out, the new turbo engines are also quieter than their predecessors.
"I think it's extreme because even when the cars were out you couldn't hear them,'' Rosberg said. "It's evidence how big this challenge is for everyone. It's massive.''
Force India also revealed its car in the morning, while Caterham and Williams both had to delay their presentations before eventually rolling out their new cars. The major change teams face is switching to a 1.6-liter V6 turbo engine from last year's 2.4-liter V8. The new regulations focus on boosting cars' energy recovery systems, which generate energy from braking and through waste heat from the engine. F1 has also lowered fuel to 100 kilograms per race, down from 160 kilos, increased the car's weight, and forced alterations to gearboxes, exhaust, wings and nose height.
Testing continues in southern Spain until Friday, followed by two more tests in Bahrain. The season opens with the Australian Grand Prix on March 16.
Also Tuesday, Mercedes included a message of support for former driver Michael Schumacher with the Twitter hashtag "#KeepFightingMichael" written on the side of the W05.
Schumacher suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in France on Dec. 29, and has been in a coma since. He remains in stable condition.
Rosberg was Schumacher's teammate for three seasons before the seven-time world champion retired from F1 for a second time at the end of 2012.
"We want to show as a team that we are thinking of him and hoping for the best every day," said Rosberg, while Hamilton added that Schumacher's accident was "tragic."
Vettel says that he "was as shocked as anyone else in the paddock" about Schumacher's accident.
"I have known him for a long time and have been looking up to him all my life," Vettel said. "I got to know him obviously when he did his comeback a little bit more and became his friend.
"It's horrible, especially for his family and close friends not knowing what's going to happen. In that regard, as I said, I'm still shocked as everyone and obviously I pray and hope a miracle will happen and he will come back and be the person he has always been before."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.