"Without the safety auto the story of the race should be different", said Marchionne.
Verstappen then wasted no time moving up the field. 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.
It proved the right decision as the track dried out and those ahead of him were forced to change tyres on lap four, with Vettel now back in sixth. "Then there were other times in the race when I was quicker".
Hamilton said: "We are both pushing". "I didn't expect that at all, especially after starting 16th".
"It'll be interesting and it's just going to unfold over these next races".
Fifteen cars finished Sunday's 56-lap race, with neither McLaren making it to the flag.
Who is top of the F1 Drivers' World Championship after Round 2?
"He's really maximised above and beyond in those, which is why he gets driver of the day".
It is a tussle that many have wanted for years, including Hamilton. It could have been a different race, but it was a good recovery.
Vettel, who has won there twice in 2012 and 2013 when with Red Bull, said there is still more to come from him and Ferrari as he bids for a fifth drivers' championship.
Vettel's race was scuppered by a sheer bad luck.
But while that was happening, Ferrari kept Raikkonen out on his old soft tyres - hoping to get him to the end - despite the Finn growing increasingly frustrated over the radio at the handling of his vehicle and the fact he was losing time in traffic while his rivals were in clear air and on fresh rubber. A short time later, on the fourth lap, Antonio Giovinazzi hit a wet patch and slammed into the wall, severely damaging his Sauber vehicle and bringing the race to a halt again.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver ended up just 6.250 seconds behind race victor Lewis Hamilton, but did so after running fifth in the laps after the safety auto, when he was caught up by its timing having already stopped for slick tyres during the virtual safety vehicle a few laps earlier. The result leaves Hamilton and Vettel hand-in-hand on 43 points.
Sebastian Vettel was in good form for the duration of the race.
Hamilton conceded afterwards that the pace between himself and Vettel was close and that the fight for victory may have been closer without the safety vehicle.
"On a track and in conditions which were very different from those we had in Melbourne, we proved that we have a strong vehicle", Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said.