The FIA has drawn up plans for a new global junior open-wheel ladder series formula to start in 2014.
The international governing body wants to introduce a new national-level championship in all affiliated countries. Draft regulations were agreed at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on March 6.
FIA Formula 4 will start off as a single-make category before morphing into a multi-make slicks-and-wings formula based around a carbon chassis, according to FIA Single-Seater Commission president and ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger.
It will use 1600cc engines capped at 150bhp. Each championship will use a single make of engine, but different manufacturers may build engines for the formula in different countries. The engines will be equalized so that one version of Formula 4 is not faster than another. Berger made clear that the intent is to provide a steppingstone to racing for younger drivers than has previously been allowed.
"Our task is to close the hole on the staircase from karting to Formula 1," said Berger. "Formula 3 is the center of everything. Now we have to see how 15-year-olds can move up in single-seaters. The first step is to close the gap between F3 and karting and bring the cost down to under 100,000 euro [$129,000] per year."
The FIA has studied various categories and the initial formula is likely to be based on ones that best match the FIA's blueprint.
"We're going to have a single supplier of the engine per country, but we don't want a fixed chassis supplier," Berger added. "We need a transition period. There are a couple of existing cars, like the Signatech Formula 4 in France or the ADAC Formel Masters in Germany, that are eligible to become FIA F4 and technically easy to make so.
"We haven't found something that fits exactly, but there are some that could be modified. It's not the ideal scenario for us because it's not possible to have these cars racing together."
Berger hopes to develop the formula in Europe starting in 2014, before rolling it out to other parts of the globe.
"We have requests from the ASNs [national racing authorities] because markets have changed a lot in the last years," he added. "The market for national Formula 3 is very thin because it's too expensive. In Italy, for example, there is no Formula 3 anymore. A lot of other countries are in a similar situation.
"Now the regulations have been completed we are offering the package to the nations. I would like to start in Europe from 2014 with a limited number, maybe four or five, as the first step. We need to prove it works before it goes to a larger scale."