Following the FIA's shuffling of the feeder series pack over the past couple of years, the Formula 3 name will join the Formula 1 support package for the 2019 season - ushering in a new era for the third-tier category under the stewardship of a new, yet familiar, promoter.
Outgoing incumbent ITR - the Gerhard Berger-led DTM promoter that ran the series under the FIA Formula 3 European Championship guise - makes way for F1's own feeder series division Formula Motorsport Ltd, headed by Formula 2 and GP3 supremo Bruno Michel.
Consequently, the rival third-tier category GP3 Series officially comes to an end after nine seasons. With F3 on the F1 bill along with F2, this creates a clear ladder to the pinnacle of international single-seater racing - much like MotoGP and its associated Moto2 and Moto3 acts.
Although marketed as a new series, in a similar approach to the GP2/F2 name change, this edition of F3 will essentially be a continuation of GP3 - retaining the same furniture and two-races-per-round format. Supporting F1 means that famed F3 street races at Pau and the Norisring are now gone, and it's currently unknown whether a non-championship round at Macau will remain in the picture.
To mark the start of the new era, Dallara has penned a brand new F3 car - which was launched in the F1 paddock at the final round of the year in Abu Dhabi.
As the covers over the new chariot were whipped off by Michel, F2 technical director Didier Perrin, F1 race director Charlie Whiting and F1 commercial chief Sean Bratches, the crowd in attendance remained conspicuously quiet. "That just looks like the GP3 car," murmured one of the series' former drivers - and, on the surface at least, they would be right.
Outwardly, there doesn't seem to be a great deal of change between the new machine and the final-generation GP3 car introduced back in 2016.
The most obvious differences from the GP3/16 to the F3 2019 appear to be threefold; a larger front bulkhead to conform to the global set of FIA F3 regulations, a reinforced driver cell to accommodate the newly-added halo, and a more aggressive-looking rear wing - complete with rear lights in the endplates akin to those expected to be seen in F1 next season.
There's something undoubtedly Batmobile-esque about the rear of the car, perhaps to mask the seemingly Beluga whale-inspired front-end.
At the launch of the car, Perrin cited "overtaking, overtaking and overtaking" as the main driving force behind the aerodynamic tweaks, perhaps made necessary by the oft-processional races seen in GP3.
Scratching under the surface, there's more to the car than just a smattering of cursory changes. The bulkier nose section comes as a legacy of 'traditional' F3's regulations mandating spring/damper-activated pushrod suspension at the front, which is fitted to the new car and means that the more compact torsion bars used in the old GP3 car have had to be discarded.
The F3 2019 is a colossal departure from the old Dallara F317, considered to be a 'conventional' F3 car. Purists, look away
This changes how teams can approach set-up changes; there's more customisation options available with a spring and damper system to offer more progressive spring rates, which affect how the car responds to a track's surface.
Handily, in a single-spec formula, the resultant weight penalty is the same for everyone, so the immediate drawbacks of losing a smaller and lighter solution is mitigated.
Crucially, the remaining key features appear to be the same; the naturally-aspirated Mecachrome V6 returns to action, albeit restricted by 20bhp to more closely position 'new' F3 as something of a midway point between F2 and Formula 4. This therefore brings it more in line with the FIA's vision of a clear ladder to F1.
Further additions come as a product of the FIA's latest safety requirements, and the steel-fabricated halo is partnered with Zylon-composite side-intrusion panels.
The F3 2019 retains the same back end - the rear suspension components and six-speed Hewland gearbox - from the previous GP3 car. This proved to be a reliable and dependable package, as proven by the low number of mechanically-enforced retirements over the past three years. This is a crucial component in a feeder series, where drivers bring their own budgets and expect a reliable service at the absolute minimum.
Ultimately, the F3 2019 is a colossal departure from the old Dallara F317, considered to be a 'conventional' F3 car. Purists, look away: the iconic intake pod positioned on the side of the engine cover is gone, replaced with the more common overhead airbox to feed the engine.
Engine supply for the new car becomes exclusive; in the final season of European F3, both Volkswagen and Mercedes supplied units that produced around 240bhp, while ThreeBond, Toyota and Mugen Honda supplied other championships - such as Japanese F3 and Euroformula Open - running to the same rulesets.
Now Mecachrome becomes F3's sole engine supplier to continue its lengthy affiliation with Michel, who was involved in its F1 engine programme in the late 1990s.
The new car has begun a development programme to try to ensure that when the F3 2019s are delivered to the 10 participating teams in January they perform as consistently as the old GP3 car.
Perhaps, given the headache that F3's new organisers had with F2's problematic package in 2018, keeping several known quantities from the previous car isn't such a bad thing.
Certainly, F2's 2018 travails brought lessons that the organisers have had to learn the hard way. Dialling the clock back to almost a year ago when the category's new car hit the track for the first time, teams suffered a litany of reliability problems at the first test at Paul Ricard. The new powertrain, which was developed to bring the series closer to F1, suffered from early teething problems.
While F2 uses largely the same internal combustion engine as new F3 - and GP3 before it - the unit was modified for the application of a turbocharger, which threw complications into the mix. Early in 2018, Mecachrome engineers and the F2 technical team elected to turn down the engines to preserve reliability, leaving each car short on the original promised power of 620bhp.
After the issues had been investigated and the early reliability addressed, clutch difficulties then reared their heads at the start of races - which prompted the championship to temporarily introduce rolling starts in Austria and Britain. Thanks to a new clutch basket heading the list of updates ahead of the races in Hungary, the not-infrequent stalls were thought to have been alleviated.
Unlike the transition between F2 cars during the 2017-18 off-season, the new F3 organisers have seemingly learned from those errors and resisted making wholesale changes
While FIA race director Charlie Whiting considered the matter "history" following a successful round iat the Hungaroring, a change to the clutch maps for the Abu Dhabi finale - brought in to cover the expected effects of heat at the race - reignited the swathe of consternation. Three cars failed to get off the line in the feature race, including title contender Alexander Albon.
Teams and drivers were notably disgruntled at the difficulties returning - newly-crowned champion George Russell calling the starting procedure "woeful" - suggesting that F2 and its suppliers have work to do over the winter to remedy the situation for next season.
On the back of a difficult F2 season, the organisers have a number of new F3 entrants to keep happy. Prema Racing, HWA, Carlin, Charouz Racing System and Hitech all join the ranks - and a reliable car will certainly placate them.
Plenty of running at Magny-Cours has been conducted in order to test the F3 systems out in the real world, and more mileage is expected to be logged before February's scheduled shakedown in which all 10 teams will be able to play with their new cars for the first time ahead of the trio of official tests.
Unlike the transition between F2 cars during the 2017-18 off-season, the new F3 organisers have resisted making wholesale changes in this latest instance having appeared to learn lessons from this year's angst. If anything, with the reduction in peak engine power, the package will be far less stretched to its limits than was previously the case.
Despite the mandated change in suspension geometry, the package will be an undoubtedly familiar one to the teams selected to carry on from GP3 - and should be intuitive enough for the new squads to understand quickly, as was proven by the debuting MP Motorsport team's strong 2018 season.
Together, this should take the onus off both the fear of reliability issues and any struggles to adapt to the car, and put the focus back on the track - the field on which championships should be won.
While the new face of F3 - halo-equipped and without the side intake - might upset traditionalists, the prestigious position on the F1 support bill and GP3's previous pedigree should draw plenty of attention to the series. With the lessons of the past in the organisers' pockets, "new" F3 has the opportunity to get absolutely everything right.