MELBOURNE, March 12, 2014 (AFP) - A return to turbocharged engines, a limit on fuel and new energy recovery systems are among a number of significant rule changes which look set to shake up the new Formula One season.
The sport is pushing the boundaries of hybrid technology in a move that is likely to benefit road car design, and means that 2014's F1 machines will run races on 35 percent less fuel than last season.
Turbocharged engines are back for the first time since 1988, with last year's 2.4-litre V8s replaced by 1.6-litre V6s, and energy recovery systems instead of the previous kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS).
The new ERS will offer twice the power of KERS, and consequently any ERS failure during a race will have a much bigger impact on performance than it did under KERS.
The driver no longer has to push a button to activate ERS -- the power is simply delivered to the rear wheels via the throttle pedal with help from the car's electronics.
In another form of energy harvesting, cars will also use two separate Motor Generator Units, which convert mechanical and heat energy to electrical energy and vice versa.
Perhaps the most significant rule change in this year's F1 is the introduction of a fuel limit.
Each car will be allowed to use a maximum of 100 kilos (approximately 135 litres), representing around two-thirds of the loads carried previously.
As a result, driving styles and tactics will have to adapt with fuel conservation paramount.
In a further change for the teams, F1 cars will have eight forward gears for the first time. The gear ratios have been selected during pre-season and will have to be used for the whole season.
Each gearbox must now last six consecutive races instead of the previous five.
Italian tyre-makers Pirelli have been contracted by the sport's governing body the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to supply F1 cars for the next three years.
Following a turbulent 2013 season, it was announced late last year that Pirelli would remain as the sole supplier of tyres for the F1 circuit.
The announcement that the agreement will stand for the next three years, further underlines the FIA's confidence that Pirelli can iron out the safety problems that dogged them last year.
Last season was marred by a succession of tyre blow-outs, culminating at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone which was almost halted mid-race due to the number of incidents.
Among the teams, Mercedes and McLaren appeared to have adapted the best to the new regulations during pre-season testing while Red Bull and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel struggled.
Vettel endured a tough final testing session in Bahrain when there were problems with the new Red Bull car. On one day, the German failed to complete a single lap due to electrical issues and problems with the car's Renault engine.
Renault are powering four teams in the 2014 F1 championship -- Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Lotus and Caterham.
Away from the garages, one significant and controversial change is the decision to award double points for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi on November 23.