Vettel still ‘open-minded’ for Malaysian GP despite qualifying setback

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Sebastian Vettel says he is “open-minded” heading into Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix and not thinking about the consequences starting last could have on his bid for the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

Vettel had been leading the drivers’ standings until two races at in Italy, and slipped to 28 points behind Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in Singapore when he retired from the race.

With six races to go, Vettel’s title hopes were dealt a fresh blow in Malaysia on Saturday when he suffered an engine issue in qualifying that prevented him from posting a lap time, leaving him last on the grid with Hamilton on pole.

Despite being disappointed by the setback, Vettel is keeping his options open heading into Sunday’s race as he prepares to battle his way back up the order.

“Tomorrow should be a bit more exciting. I think it’s a shame because the car is quick,” Vettel told NBCSN.

“I think today we could have got pole or had a word at least. You never know.

“For us it’s fairly straightforward. We saved some tires, which helps us. For sure the starting position doesn’t help, but you never know what can happen tomorrow.

“I’m fairly open-minded and focused on the race, not what that means for the year, for the points, whatever. As I said, step by step.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am ET on Sunday.