Vettel, who as a outcome of the chaotic second half of the race actually increased his lead in the title standings to 14 points, having at one stage looked as if it would be cut to five points, looked to try and build bridges with Hamilton as he followed up his defence of his driving with a conciliatory tone.
Hamilton led the field into the pit lane as a Mercedes mechanic, armed with a screwdriver and pliers, patched up the bodywork on the rear of his vehicle.
Gesturing wildly, Vettel then pulled alongside Hamilton's vehicle and appeared to turn into the side of the Mercedes, with the pair banging wheels before the race then resumed.
Vettel, 12 points ahead of Hamilton in the championship race, threw both hands up in the air before pulling alongside his rival and then appearing to deliberately drive into the Briton.
Cape Town - Sebastian Vettel has accused Lewis Hamilton of brake-checking him after a collision under the Safety Car lead to a 10-second stop-go penalty for the World Championship leader. "He's obviously sleeping and drove in the back of me, that for me wasn't an issue".
"Deliberately driving into another driver and getting away pretty much scot-free as he still came fourth, I think that's a disgrace", said Hamilton. I don't know what to say, there's nothing I can say.
"The safety vehicle is going so slow, it's unsafe for us".
Hamilton's headrest problem arose just after the midway point of the race, and that and Vettel's stop-and-go penalty allowed Ricciardo to claim his first win of the season. I'm sure he didn't do it on goal but for sure it was not the right move. I don't think it was necessary.
Stroll's previous best had been a ninth-place finish on home soil earlier this month, but he kept his nerve under pressure to become the youngest Formula One driver to make the podium in his maiden season.
Vettel threw his hands into the air, then drew alongside Hamilton and swerved into the side of him. I did not give him the finger. No question. But to drive next to him and hit him on goal, I have never seen anything like this.
After the conclusion of the grand prix, Vettel insisted Hamilton had hit the brakes after accelerating, known in racing as a "brake test".
Pushed for an answer, Vettel continued: "Well, I think it was very deliberate for him to brake check me, I don't think he is that kind of guy. It was just a insane race", Ricciardo said. Part of me actually enjoys that risk.
He was still giggling later on a weird podium; Bottas had come from a lap-down to claim second while Stroll, at 18 and much-maligned, claimed his first podium. Nevertheless, the 18-year-old rookie landed the first podium of his short career.
"It was fun. Even when we got the red flag, I was on the radio saying 'This is fun, this is a good race, '" he said.
"When we had the red flag, when we got out the vehicle, I saw the replays [of the Hamilton/Vettel crash] I was pretty sure Seb as going to get a penalty but I wasn't sure to what extent".