There was much talk of the exciting new technology ahead of the season and once the rather inconvenient problems with electronic discharge through mechanics and drivers were solved there seemed to be a general confidence that the concept was worth investing in, for the sake of Formula One and the future of cars on the road.
But the cost and time of developing the systems, when so many other new rule changes had been introduced for the 2009 season, prevented all but the richest teams from developing KERS systems in time for the start of the season.
If the standardised KERS solution is voted in, those that have not finalised their designs will need to decide whether the advantage it gives is worth spending all that money to get it on their cars later in the year only for their work to be rendered meaningless and of no advantage by its end.
Needless to say, you would expect those with KERS to likely be fighting for individual team designs to continue while those who spent the money on developing their cars rather than their KERS will be very keen to be handed a solution on a plate.
But have we really seen enough yet to decide whether KERS is worth the bother or not? Well, the system is at its most useful as an overtaking boost, so analysis is only really relevant in a race situation.
But it is only perfectly functional on a dry track due to the instant boost it gives causing heavy wheelspin in the wet. So with just one fully dry race so far, the answer is probably no - but Bahrain did reveal a few interesting pointers.
Teams can choose whether or not to run KERS and the system was notable by its absence in Malaysia - but in Bahrain, because there are some good long straights, all the teams that had it available — McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault - used it if they could.
And while the start is always frantic and has lots of factors affecting where cars arrive at the first corner, Bahrain certainly gave more than a hint of how useful KERS can be off the line.
Hamilton was the lead KERS car on the grid, starting fifth for McLaren, and with the boost button fully depressed when the lights went out, he gained two places to rocket up to third then pressed it again to pass Trulli for second later in the lap, although he was re-passed having run out of the limited amount of boost available. Raikkonen, too, seemed to be a big winner at the start, moving up three spots by the end of the lap.
Throughout the race, too, there were clear signs of KERS in use to either pass or prevent passing, such as Hamilton staying ahead of Vettel and Raikkonen getting past Glock.
But the question is, does F1 really need such a gimmick?
On paper, it seems a no-brainer: at the start, it gives an advantage; lap-by-lap the performance boost is cancelled out by the extra weight; and in overtaking, in Bahrain at least, the system is fairly level balanced between enabling a car to pass then running out of boost and letting a rival pass back by the end of the lap.
There has actually been plenty of close racing so far this year where non-KERS cars have passed and re-passed, and the 'push-to-pass' does seem rather contrived. But with calls for F1 to make sure it can continue entertaining while also pushing the boundaries of technology, it is brave to bet against it sticking around.
DATE PUBLISHED ON: 5 MAY 2009