Federer was forced to miss the second half of last season with a knee injury that raised serious questions over whether his career would be able to continue.
However he produced a stunning comeback to claim his 18th Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January and his return to the top of the men's game continued at Indian Wells on Sunday.
Federer beat countryman Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 in Sunday's final, to wrap up his fifth Paribas Open and draw level with Novak Djokovic.
The first set was dominated by serve before Federer broke to take a 5-4 lead. Wawrinka then hit back in the second set with an early break but Federer soon made it 2-2 before he made another crucial break at 6-5 to seal the victory.
"I came here for the first time 17 years ago," he said in the presentation. "To be the champion again, I can't tell you what it means to me.
"This has been a fairytale week once again. I'm still on the comeback."