Munnings samples wings and water in Extreme E downtime

Over the last decade every kind of motorsport imaginable has been electrified. Circuits, off-road, four wheels and two, and even on water – a championship in the air is being worked on, too.

Leading the group is Alejandro Agag’s flagship trio of Formula E, Extreme E, and the E1 boat racing series. The list of people who’ve sampled any two of the three is a short one – Stephane Sarazzin raced in both Formula E and Extreme E, while Adrien Tambay has driven both, and Timmy Hansen and Catie Munnings run full schedules in both Extreme E and E1.

But last month Munnings became the first person to experience all three when she completed a brief test of Formula E’s GEN3 car at the Misano E-Prix. The Brit has spent her entire career in the rallying and off-road racing sphere, never once looking at circuit racing, so for her the outing was “a completely new experience”.


“I’ve driven a Formula 3 car before for some filming, but I’ve never driven any other kind of single seater because I never really did track racing,” she tells RACER. “I’m glad that I’d driven the Formula 3 car so I had something to compare it to, though.

“I thought they might do a bit of an introductory phase but it was literally right in at the deep end,” she adds. “The power was turned right up – I think we were on 350 kW, which is what maximum power is.”

Munnings swapped notes with former Formula E driver Karun Chandhok. Andretti Formula E

Munnings is, of course, no stranger to electric race cars, but having that full helping of the Formula E car’s power under her right foot was eye-opening, while the work her left foot had to do also took her by surprise.

“The first thing that I thought was that it just kept accelerating, it didn’t plateau, which was really strange for me and it was just so cool,” she says. “It was incredible acceleration.

“I was obviously very careful not to bin it, but I think the biggest thing that felt funny was the regen braking, because the feedback through the brake pedal was really unique. I was speaking to Karun (Chandhok) afterwards, obviously he’s raced in Formula E, and was telling me that you have a phase where you kind of feel the regen first and then you have to go through that to get the hydraulic brake to work, and obviously it doesn’t have hydraulic brakes on the rear so that was a really unique feeling.

But while the acceleration and the regen were standout points, the car itself wasn’t so intimidating that she couldn’t fully get to grips with it in her short time behind the wheel.

“I think the biggest thing as well was how predictable it was to drive in the corners. It wasn’t as twitchy as the Formula 3 car that I’d driven,” she notes. “It was very smooth on the throttle application, and the handling as well. It was more similar to driving an electric road car in that sense – you got good feedback from it and you were in control of everything.”

Munnings in a single seater was an unfamiliar sight – and perhaps one that won’t be seen again. Andretti Formula E

Munnings isn’t afraid to try something out of her wheelhouse. Her flirtation with Formula E came after she swapped sand for sea by entering the E1 series with Extreme E teammate Timmy Hansen earlier this year.

“Timmy was convinced before I was – we were both asked to go into the driver program and we were put through our powerboat training and then the Superlicense for cockpit racing,” she says. “Timmy went ahead and did the training and came back to me and said “Catie you’ve got to do it, it’s just like driving a car off road”.

“When you get a feeling for the grip of the water, it’s no different, and they were comparing the lap times between motorsport drivers and powerboat racers, and Timmy being Timmy was right up at the top instantly, and I thought it was doable.”

Munnings adds that controlling the E1 boat was, unusually, much like a car, and that the seasoned powerboat racers she competes alongside have had to adapt a fair bit since the controls are the opposite to what they’re used to.

“From that side, that was kind of what convinced me and I just took it step by step,” she says. “I wanted to check that I could be competitive and then it turned out that there was a team that wanted to go with me and Timmy because they felt that we worked quite well together and we know each other well so, going into a new championship, was a good thing from the beginning.”

But while E1 remains a solid side gig, Munnings isn’t eyeing a further expansion into Formula E, suggesting that it’s Hansen – who raced against F1 drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat, as well as current Formula E racers Robin Frijns and Stoffel Vandoorne in Formula BMW and Formula Renault – who’s more likely to be tempted.

“We always joke about Timmy doing it because he started in single-seaters and he used to race against some of the guys that are now racing in it,” she says. “I always think he’d be a bit more suited to it than I am, I’ve always been off-road.

“It was an amazing experience and the car felt incredible to drive. I just never delved into the circuit racing scene really, I think the closest I got was with rallycross. As we all know, I probably say yes to everything, so never say never, but I think for now my skillset is probably more on the sand and jumps of the motorsport world.”

And that leaves Extreme E. It’s been a while since the season-opener in Saudi Arabia in the third week of February, and the next race of the season – at a location which will be announced imminently – remains a distant thought too, but Munnings is hugely positive about her Andretti team’s start to the season.

Munnings started the Extreme E season strongly with Andretti back in February. Andrew Ferraro/Extreme E

Munnings and Hansen won the Redemption Race in Round 1 before finishing second in Round 2, with a qualifying heat win in their back pocket, too. It marked a massive turnaround for the team which ended the 2023 campaign with a car-killing crash in the penultimate round, followed by a withdrawal from the season-closer.

“I think we’re feeling like the best we’ve felt in a long time, to be honest,” she says, sounding the most upbeat she has about Extreme E for some time. “There was a really good atmosphere in Saudi, we had a really good performance, everything kind of came together.

“We’ve had the ingredients for it the whole of last year, it was just one of those years for us – there was just lots of little things that weren’t pulling together for a result, so I think to have had a second place and to be very close to first place at the finish line was really cool. We got some good points for the championship. I think it always sets the tone when you start a season like that.

“Obviously coming into the next round, I think we’re feeling good. I’m really enjoying being a part of the championship at the minute.”

Story originally appeared on Racer