Toto Wolff was pleased with the fight back from the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team as Lewis Hamilton took their first victory of the 2017 season at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday.
Vettel finished second after winning the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last month, so the pair are locked on 43 points.
Merc's W06 in the lead.
"I am looking forward to this fight, not only with Sebastian, but the other guys as well, who are in amongst it".
The drivers had barely left the starting grid when Williams' Lance Stroll bumped against Sergio Perez of Force India and spun off the track into a bed of gravel.
I think it's going to be the closest championship race I've been involved in. "He's performing at his best, he is rapid out there, so when I'm able to get ahead, it only compliments you, and vice versa". The young Dutch driver passed nine cars on the opening lap and was even threatening Hamilton at one point, but fell back and eventually lost second place to Vettel.
But when the safety vehicle was deployed for real only moments later - after Antonio Giovinazzi, the Italian filling in for the unfit Pascal Wehrlein, crashed his Sauber for the second time in as many days - Hamilton could stop for dry rubber.
"So there will be days where we're up and down - like in Melbourne where he did the better job and I acknowledged that".
The four-times world champion found himself bottled up behind Ricciardo and his slower team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, costing him valuable time.
The Brit started from pole position and led from beginning to end to capture the 54th race title of his career and his first of the new Formula One season.
But it was a good day for Hamilton, Vettel probably made the pass of the race with an overtake Ricciardo, which took from turn five to turn six to complete, and Verstappen's progress from 16th to third was the drive of the day.
"But later on Sebastian got behind me and we had a real race on our hands", Hamilton said.
Vettel lined up on the front row alongside polesitter Lewis Hamilton and held his position early on, but pitted under the early virtual safety vehicle, as he sought to gain an advantage. And then we were a bit unfortunate maybe with the safety auto. He says he expects Ferrari to do better in the hotter conditions coming up in Bahrain.
"It looks like we are very close on pace with Ferrari". Then after that, once we had done the pit stop with the Safety Car the speed was very low and being so cold the temperatures in the tires were like they were just not working it was so cold.