Mercedes took advantage of the SC but had to stack their drivers with Lewis Hamilton behind Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton won last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix to draw level on 43 points with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship.
Results were largely predictable: only on one occasion was one of Rosberg and Hamilton not on the podium in the entire season - with Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen occasionally able to show their class and break the carbon fibre ceiling.
The renewed optimism is in contrast to past year, when Ferrari did not even win a race and where Vettel drew more attention for his frustrated outbursts during actual races rather than his driving.
Such a scenario should have allowed Mercedes a free stop but Bottas was delayed in the pits and Hamilton came in slowly to leave a gap before being serviced himself.
It dropped him to 12th, but by the time the rest of the pack had pitted behind the safety vehicle following a coming to gather between the Williams of Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz, he was sitting pretty at the front.
Unfortunately, Verstappen came out of the pit and immediately suffered a brake failure around Turn 4, going off and into the wall, ending his promising race.
A slow stop for Bottas delayed Hamilton slightly anyway and he dropped behind the Red Bull, and was then hit with a five-second penalty for delaying Ricciardo.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his auto during the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 16, 2017.
A slow first-stop, coupled with the extra five seconds spent in the pits during his second stop, meant Hamilton had to fight back past Ricciardo and Bottas - aided by a Mercedes pit call to switch it's drivers around - to recover to second place. "Yes guys that's what I am talking about", said a jubilant Vettel as he crossed the line.
"The pit lane was really my fault so apologies to my team", Hamilton said.
"It was a really great day".
He passed the Australian on track then served his penalty in his stop, before passing Bottas in the final stint and ending up 6.6 seconds behind race victor Vettel.
With Hamilton gaining fast, Vettel came in for his second tire change on lap 34 and came out fourth behind Raikkonen. It is his second win this season, having taken the flag in Australia and his 44th career victory. "Losing points for the team is definitely painful but it is what it is". With the dust settled, Vettel was now 12s behind Hamilton, Bottas was third while Ricciardo and Raikkonen lay fourth and fifth respectively.
Upon restart, Bottas and Vettel went at it hard with the Ferrari barely managing to hold on to P1. He came in on lap 41, served his five-second penalty, and came out P3, 10s behind Bottas.
"Three-hundred meters behind me and they overtake me on the straight", Alonso told his team over the radio midway through the race.
McLaren's nightmare continued with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne failing to start and Fernando Alonso retiring on the final laps but classified 14th.