I'm not sure whether I'm grateful for this strange end or not. It's saved me the embarrassment of a public retirement ceremony, a public swan song, so to speak. No one was talking about Eddie Irvine in Suzuka, saying 'And of course, this is his last race.' No one mourned me then because even I did not really believe I wouldn't be coming back. But then, I would have liked some of that. A public occasion when I could just say 'goodbye', a sponsored drinking opportunity and a chance to say 'Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life'. Which, of course, it is, but it isn't, which is a strange thing to say but it's how I feel. My career ended so abruptly that it almost doesn't quite seem to have stopped. No one told stories of the highlights and lowlights of my career. One day I would be racing in March, the next I wouldn't and despite having had time to prepare myself, it won't seem real until they've begun racing without me. Maybe it's leaving with dignity rather than a slow and painful decline but I don't feel dignified after scrabbling so desperately for that one remaining drive. One season more - was that really so much to ask? It obviously was.
On the other hand, of course, I don't have to do all that irritating training. I'm free to do whatever I want. If I fancy testing my luck in some other formulas then I can, if I fancy just taking it easy and trying out some other extreme sports than I can do that too, without fearing that an injury will ruin my season. I am optimistic about the future, don't get me wrong. Life's not over just because racing is, no matter how much this may sound like it is. It's just that I would have liked something else, that's all. A sentiment which, at this moment in time, seems to sum up my entire racing career.
I would have liked something else.