Grand Prix engine manufacturers have committed to an all-new formula from 2014 but there's more to it than just an engine change — F1 bosses hope the proposed new regulations will help drive a revolution.
It's a clean sheet of paper for 2014. After more than 100 races with the current 3.5-litre normally aspirated V8s, the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo unit presents a fundamentally different layout and an exciting new challenge for a group of engineers whose innovation has been stifled by restrictive regulations for years.
It's the biggest step change since turbos went to normally aspirated engines in the late 1980s, but it is the increased reliance on alternative energy and fuel efficiency that promises to be most important.
Cars will use about 35 percent less fuel in 2014 than they currently do thanks to a combination of more efficient engines, more powerful hybrid systems and improvements in aerodynamic efficiency.
To limit costs and development, the engines will have a 155kg weight limit (to prevent teams using expensive low-weight metals) and there will be a significant number of homologated parts — parts which cannot change — including the intake system, fuel injectors, ignition coils, sensors and wiring, pumps, exhaust parts and the standard ECU.
They will be limited to 15,000rpm with a single turbo and in terms of fuel, teams will have a fixed amount allocated for the race and a fuel flow limit on the engine to enable them to control the amount used at different points in the race.
The size of the KERS motor will be doubled and this will increase its power output significantly, to enable up to 33.5s of extra boost per lap on discharge — with deliberate charging limitations meaning it will take two laps to store up that full amount, adding yet another element of strategy into the mix.
To further and more clearly demonstrate the use of alternative energy in Formula One, the new rules now stipulate only electric propulsion can be used in the pits — which will make the pitlane an eerie (and some say dangerously) silent place. But it will get tongues wagging.
To cope with this, the FIA will allow eight-speed gearboxes (or possibly nine) but there is a big change here as unlike this year, when teams can stipulate 30 different gear ratios for the season, in 2014 teams will have to stipulate the eight gear ratios to be used and not change from that all year — which will be a real challenge for designers to get right.
By committing to these energy efficiency moves, F1 hopes to drive the development on energy efficiency in road cars, providing benefit from the sheer pace of development in the sport. Indeed, Mercedes has already seen the use of KERS in F1 lead to battery technology crossing over to their road cars.
That said, hybrid leaders Toyota and Honda chose to ditch F1 in recent years and, arguably, the cost of racing around in F1 for a year can fund a lot of dedicated road car research and development.
Also, as Mike Gascoyne has explained, KERS is not really an ideal solution. "They are about the least cost-effective energy recovery you could ever imagine," he has said. "But the message it's sending out is the right one and we will get to the stage when we do them efficiently."
In actual fact, the development side of this F1 green energy drive is not the most important factor. It's the publicity it will generate.
The sport has been working very hard to improve its green image in recent years, committing to a major carbon reduction programme with a particular focus on the fact the global travel, rather than the cars themselves, is the biggest contributor to it's carbon usage.
But the new 2014 regulations will give F1 a role that goes beyond its efforts to simply smooth out its own green credentials — and while KERS may not be the everyday solution, it can now be a showcase for green technology thinking, make it more popular and prove that performance does not have to be compromised by fuel efficiency.
Ross Brawn described the plan as trying to give the message "that it's cool to have a really efficient engine" and that's exactly the point. While F1 may not yet be developing truly cost-effective solutions for green energy, by overtly showing it off, it is pointing the way.