Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was the highest of the Renault-powered drivers in sixth, but was lapped by the dominant Mercedes duo. His team mate Daniil Kvyat meanwhile suffered a gearbox issue and retired on the outlap to the grid.
Renault insist they made progress with their power unit over the winter, but that it is proving difficult to unlock those gains on track.
"The weekend has been very frustrating," Renault's managing director Cyril Abiteboul admitted.
"We know that we made genuine progress over the winter but we could not show it here and in fact we would even seem to have moved backwards.
"Given the pace at which we conducted our development programme towards the last few weeks of the winter, there may not be lots to change to be able to access these improvements. Now, we need to react, but not overreact, and get back to some basic common sense that has always driven our approach in all these years of F1 engine development.
"The season will be long, we have the time and the capacity to react and get this very bad start of the 2015 season behind us."
Remi Taffin, director of operations, added: "From the start of the weekend we've faced a number of technical issues, both at Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Reliability has been below par - we are already investigating a recovery programme to make sure we do not see a repeat.
"The biggest issue has been the driveability, which has made it hard for all the drivers to feel comfortable in the cars. It affects pedal application and confidence in the corners so has cost lap time and points this weekend.
"It's related to the maps, or the way the power unit is configured, so while it's definitely not an easy fix, it does not require a complete redesign. We have got a lot of work to do before Malaysia but equally a lot of motivation to not repeat the same issues we had this weekend."