In this article I’m going to discuss the prices of the Formula 1 Topps Chrome cards of the Formula 1 drivers from 2020 and 2021 sets. I decided on taking the Refractor rarity of the portrait cards (#1-20) as basis for the prices because it is more rare than the Base rarity and both sets have them.
I sourced all these prices myself looking at eBay sold listings history. When there were multiple realistic prices I took a realistic middle ground, and shipping costs are added to the price as well.
Read on for a more in-depth analysis per driver. And please don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom to read the final conclusion.
|Driver||F1 Chrome 2020||F1 Chrome 2021|
One thing to note is that the market around Formula 1 is very much hype-based and it in general tends to have a short-term memory. It also values potential future performances more than past performances, I will discuss this later for multiple drivers.
Another difference in card value is that the Formula 1 Topps Chrome 2020 set has roughly 1200 Refractors per card while the Formula 1 Topps Chrome 2021 set has roughly 2325 Refractors per card. When you couple that with the fact that a lot of the drivers have their first print in the Formula 1 Topps Chrome 2020 set it can be understood why those prices are so much higher than their counterparts one year later. And lastly the Formula 1 Topps Chrome 2021 set features more unnumbered rarities: Checker Flag and Black & White RayWave.
Driver Investment Guide
Lewis Hamilton is the absolute number one. Both in card value and in number of Formula 1 World Championships, and that is no surprise. However I believe his value comes from the future potential he still has, rather than the achievements he has made in the past. The prices for his cards are steep, but as a collector I think they are a good choice, also because he was a World Champion in 2020, exactly the year the first Formula 1 Topps Chrome set got released. For investors there may be better opportunities around, but his cards will never be a bad choice.
Max Verstappen is second in value and I think that is fair, even more so after securing his second World Championship. For collectors I think the prices are great right now, though be sure that you don’t overpay right now because his prices will likely rise because investors may want to buy now he’s hot. Though as investment I think it also is a very solid choice, Max together with Red Bull Racing definitely has the potential to obtain three more World Championships while engine development is frozen until 2026. And especially the 2021 cards seem underrated right now. They may rise in a few years once the 2020 cards really are not affordable anymore for most people.
Charles Leclerc is number three and based on recent performances that is probably correct, however I disagree with it on an overall ranking basis. As stated earlier the Formula 1 market has a short-term memory. Leclerc has no World Championships yet, but he definitely has the potential, however whether it can be done with Ferrari is perhaps questionable. I wouldn’t invest in 2020 at this price point, for collecting it is okay though. 2021 seems a lot more interesting, I think you can find a lot of nice cards for a low price. This eBay search shows some nice 2021 portrait cards.
George Russell is by far the most overpriced driver in my opinion. I don’t think he is bad, quite the opposite, he is a very good Formula 1 driver. And he is showing a lot of potential too, but it will always be tough going up against Lewis Hamilton and things likely won’t change in the foreseeable future. I would be surprised if he manages to pick up more than one World Championship in the near future if any at all, the competition is so tough and he needs to wait until Hamilton retires. I think he should be rated just below the top performing drivers, but his 2020 price of $200 does not reflect that at all. His 2021 price of $10 on the other hand seems very low, I definitely would be willing to make a gamble and invest in that.
Lando Norris on the other hand I feel is valued perfectly fine and his cards are invest-able for sure. He has shown that he has the potential to be a top performer, the only thing holding him back right now is finding the right seat. I’m not saying it will happen, but if it happens then I’m sure he can compete with the greats.
Guanyu Zhou is an interesting case. He is performing above expectation, as it was expected that he was just a stop-gap measure until Theo Pourchaire was ready for Formula 1. He seems to be a solid midfield driver at the very least and his full potential is yet unknown. And on top of that he is the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula 1, with a market that huge it provides an interesting case for investing. If I were to invest in him I would buy his 2020 cards, and as a collector I would buy the cards I need as soon as possible, as it is unknown what the future holds.
Carlos Sainz is another card that seems to be priced about right. It should be possible to pick up a nice color Refractor for your collection but I wouldn’t put my bets on him. He perhaps had some potential in him but now he is simply being outclassed by Charles Leclerc. In Formula 1 anything can happen, but I can’t imagine him winning a World Championship.
Sergio Perez shares a similar fate. He is a very solid driver but his full potential is known and with Max Verstappen as teammate the chances on a World Championship are basically zero. Collect, but don’t invest.
Sebastian Vettel is severely undervalued based on past performances, he is a four time World Champion after all! Sadly that is not how the Formula 1 card market operates, even more, his future potential is zero with him retiring now. I would suggest you buy only 2020 cards if you are somewhat looking to invest, but I wouldn’t buy too many. Demand for Vettel cards may rise in the future because of him only getting 2020, 2021 and 2022 cards, but the demand won’t be big. As a collector there should be nice copies available too, both from 2020 and from 2021.
Pierre Gasly deserves more hype I think, especially now with his move to Alpine. His future is most definitely still uncertain in terms of wins and podiums, but he has a chance now. He also has been doing well against his teammates, except against Max Verstappen, but honestly everyone is struggling next to Max, so maybe that’s not really a good benchmark. 2020 seems to be again the right move, as is the case with most cheaper cards.
Mick Schumacher is tougher to evaluate with respect to card prices. I still see a lot of potential in him, yet other people do not and think he’s done. The truth is that it will not be easy to find a 2023 seat, but the question is whether that is a big problem. Mick Schumacher is the son of Michael Schumacher and perhaps just that is enough to validate his card prices. I would be investing in him as I suggested in my Why now may be a good time to buy Mick Schumacher cards post. What you should do depends on how much hope you have for his future. He seems to have a longer learning curve than others, as shown in Formula 2 as well, but he does always seem to get to the highest skill level in the end.
Daniel Ricciardo is most likely done for, unfortunately. Chances on a 2023 seat are very low and it is unsure whether he will return to the 2024 grid. He still seems to have his eyes set on a return, so that is good news for his card values. And his poor performance at McLaren seems to be a one-off, so with the right team he may be up there again. He has already shown though that he could not beat a younger Max Verstappen, so I don’t think Ricciardo will become a World Champion. I wouldn’t be buying cards of him, except for my collection. He is truly a great and likeable guy and just that will help keep his card prices steady.
Kimi Raikkonen retired in 2021 and thus only has 2020 and 2021 cards available with no more to follow. Given the Formula 1 market sentiment I wouldn’t invest in him, but picking up a few cards for your collection definitely seems like a good idea. And let’s not forget that he is a one-time World Champion, the last Ferrari World Champion and The Iceman himself!
Esteban Ocon is another card I wouldn’t invest in, he is a solid midfield driver, but I don’t rate him anything special. 2023 will be a break or make it year for him, and I think in the best case he still won’t gain anything. If he beats Gasly then people won’t applaud him for that, but if he loses against Gasly then people will hold it against him. We’ve seen his full potential and frankly it doesn’t look convincing enough.
Alexander Albon is a bit of an unknown factor. He is doing quite well and probably got promoted too early next to Verstappen and that tanked his stock. I still think he has potential but having left the Red Bull Junior Team finding a good seat will be a real struggle. He probably isn’t in a bad spot in Williams, and possibly may stay there for a significant part of his career, but I can’t see it working well for his card value. He is very likeable and a genuine nice guy so he’s a safe collection addition, but investing in him is too risky in my opinion.
Kevin Magnussen I wouldn’t put my bets on, he is a decent driver but I think he is way too aggressive in the first lap, costing parts of his front wing every time. While he did manage to make a comeback rather unexpectedly, I don’t think he can make it to the top of the field anymore at his age with the current competition.
Valtteri Bottas is for sure one driver I didn’t expect to be this far down the order. He is a very good driver, but has shown he does not have what it takes to become a World Champion and I suppose people are being overly negative because of that. It is a shame because early in his career he showed a lot of potential and his cards definitely would have been more valuable if they were released back then. I feel like he is on his way out though, so there is not much future potential left either. Again a nice collection addition but I see no reason to invest in his cards.
Yuki Tsunoda I also feel is on his way out, unfortunately. I don’t think he has ever lived up to his potential, but AlphaTauri does not have the best car right now either, so that does not help him. In general inexperienced drivers are at an even bigger disadvantage when the car is difficult to drive. And with Nyck de Vries being rumored to even have a multi-year I think Yuki Tsunoda really needs to beat Nyck de Vries by a margin in order to secure a 2024 seat. He may be in luck though if the Red Bull Junior Team cannot find a replacement for him, maybe he can manage to unlock his potential performance in a few years time. I wouldn’t invest in him, unless you like to gamble. If anything you could buy a nice color Refractor collection piece and perhaps sell it off if he turns out to be the real deal.
Lance Stroll likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. His father, Lawrence Stroll, owns the Aston Martin Formula 1 team after all. I can’t imagine Lance Stroll gaining value in the future, he is at his best right now, and frankly that is not good enough. Without his father he possibly wouldn’t be racing in Formula 1 at all. So unless somehow all future races will be rain races, he is a good rain driver after all, I don’t think you should invest in him.
Nicholas Latifi shouldn’t be on this list, yet he is. He is a nice guy and a good racing driver, but not of Formula 1 quality. How did he make it into Formula 1 then? Having a lot of financial backing, also knows as being a pay driver, answers that question. He will be gone from the grid from 2023 onward and I doubt he will return. He may find a seat in another less competitive racing series. I see no case at all to invest in him.
Romain Grosjean could be interesting to speculate on, however success in other series, IndyCar in his case, does not seem to guarantee good Formula 1 card prices. And it is very clear that he will not be returning to the Formula 1 grid. Maybe his price will rise in the future with more IndyCar success, but I would collect his cards because you like them, not because you want to make big money.
Antonio Giovinazzi is rumored to still have some hopes in Formula 1, but I wouldn’t be buying them, or his cards. He simply isn’t good enough for a top spot in Formula 1, and that is where the money would be.
Nikita Mazepin I don’t even want to discuss. Read up on him yourself to see how bad of a driver and person he is. Never buy his cards.
Daniil Kvyat is another Russian driver I wouldn’t be buying. In this case we have a good driver and as far as I know a good person too, but just being Russian these days is enough to get on the never buy list. Career-wise he has shown a lot of potential but in the end he couldn’t make it to the top and when that happens and there is plenty of new talent available Red Bull can be very quick in their decision making.
Oscar Piastri on the other hand is a lot more interesting to discuss! He has been subject to several rulings even before he started his Formula 1 career. Winning the Formula 3 and Formula 2 Championships back to back he definitely shows a lot of potential, and it is a shame that he got benched by Alpine, they mismanaged him badly. He finally found a seat for 2023 at McLaren and I can’t wait to see what he can deliver. His potential seems to be infinite, whether he can become a World Champion is up to him, and of course up to having a good enough car. He doesn’t have a 2020 card available so 2021 have his first cards. Even though 2021 will likely grow slower than 2020 I think $35 for a Refractor is still a good price and it should 100% be worth the investment. But like all investments things can fail, so always spread your chances. In Formula 1 it is even harder because of all external factors drivers have no control over.
Fernando Alonso is the last but definitely not the least! He is a two-time World Champion and has always been on top of his game. It is only due to bad luck, or perhaps bad career choices, that he never has achieved more. I rate him among the very best drivers and year upon year he has shown that he still has what it takes, even at an age of 41. With him not having been on the 2020 grid there are no 2020 cards available, so 2021 are his first cards. I think that at a price point of $15 he is definitely worth the investment. He still shows future potential despite his age and I think that at $15 it can’t go wrong either. This eBay search shows some of his most rare cards.
To summarize my findings I have made the following quick reference list, but please do check out the analysis of each driver before making any decision.
- Strong Buys: Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Oscar Piastri
- Good Buys: Lewis Hamilton, Guanyu Zhou, Fernando Alonso
- Speculative Buys: Pierre Gasly, Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunoda, Romain Grosjean
- Strong Collection Buys: Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel
- Collection Buys: Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Esteban Ocon, Alexander Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Valtteri Bottas, Lance Stroll
- Over-hyped: George Russell
- No Buys: Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nikita Mazepin, Daniil Kvyat
Please keep in mind that George Russell being over-hyped and Charles Leclerc just being a collection buy does not mean that they are bad drivers at all! This is no attack at their driver skill, this is just merely relating their card prices to their current results and future potential in the current situation.
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