Nico Hulkenberg says Renault were aware of the fuel pressure problem that ruined his qualifying during final practice but thought they had resolved it.
The German failed to make it out of Q1 in Spain on Saturday as his RS18 lost fuel pressure at the start of his first hot lap.
That left Hulkenberg down in 19th place with only time for one more run.
And while that initially elevated him up into 14th place as other drivers did their laps he fell to 16th.
“We had a little bit of a problem with the fuel system in FP3, but the guys went into the tank, checked everything,” he said.
“We thought we were on top of it, and didn’t really expect any problem.
“So it is a little bit out of the blue, and we didn’t expect it.”
He added: “[It was] just fuel drop-off, so you just lose the drive, you lose power.
“It’s like the engine just stops for split-seconds, but obviously you lose acceleration, you lose speed.”