The Briton, who started on pole, steered his Mercedes to his fifth Chinese Grand Prix win, beating Vettel's Ferrari by just over six seconds.
Mercedes driver Hamilton led every lap at Shanghai, but once Vettel made his way past the cars that jumped him early in the race due to his pitstop under virtual safety auto conditions, the two engaged in a battle of lap times as Hamilton tried to keep the Ferrari driver at bay.
Lewis Hamilton was hailed as being "in a different league" to his rivals after he dominated the Chinese Grand Prix to join Sebastian Vettel at the summit of the Formula One championship.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen drove a masterful race through traffic to move up from 16th position on the starting grid to third place, fighting off a spirited challenge from teammate Ricciardo on the final lap.
Having been beaten by Vettel in Australia, Hamilton hit back to win in China as both Ferraris were held up by the Red Bulls in the first half of the race.
The Ferrari man, instead of being ahead, was down in sixth, although that quickly became fifth after the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas had spun. "I really enjoyed it and at this point I don't care about the rest of the year".
But his knowledge of the game may go much deeper than just how to hit the flawless forehand. A short time later, on the fourth lap, Antonio Giovinazzi hit a wet patch and slammed into the wall, severely damaging his Sauber auto and bringing the race to a halt again. But after being stuck behind Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen early on, the German began to show the pace that swept him to victory in Melbourne two weeks ago. Max Verstappen did try to fend off Vettel's attack, but the Ferrari driver managed to pass him on lap 28.
"Strength-wise we are stronger, but pace-wise, if anything Ferrari got a bit quicker this weekend and the gap's even closer", said Hamilton, a triple world champion.
Raikkonen claimed P4 in the Australian Grand Prix and finished P5 in China.
The Brit never let anyone get close to him as he motored towards his first win of 2017 ahead of Vettel. I think there was potential reward. "It was very slippery out there and he lost it and the race was gone". "It pretty much led to the only place we could pass them, I couldn't get the traction or couldn't get the auto to turn around there".
In the speedy SF70H, Ferrari finally appear to have a auto capable of challenging for honours after a decade-long championship drought.