Formula 1 sports card market has collapsed, but it’s not dead yet

Lando Norris' recent price spike shows one promising sign in F1 card market

Cover Image for Formula 1 sports card market has collapsed, but it’s not dead yet
After his first Grand Prix win in Miami on Sunday, Lando Norris saw a surge in his card market. (Credit: Getty Images)

Nobody could have anticipated the impact of Netflix’s "Drive to Survive." The documentary series, which debuted in 2019, followed Formula 1 drivers and teams throughout the course of a season and sparked an unprecedented spike in interest and fandom in a previously niche sport (in the United States, at least).

Viewership of the sport nearly doubled in the U.S. from 2019 (672,000 per race average viewership) to 2022 (1.21 million per race average viewership).

But at the start of this massive spike in interest, Topps had zero active F1 offerings to meet demand.

In September 2020, the card company was announced as the official licensee of trading cards for F1. It quickly debuted a Topps NOW card honoring Pierre Gasly’s victory at the Monza Grand Prix.

Then, in February 2021, the ultra high-end Topps Dynasty F1 set dropped, featuring extremely limited print-runs (10 and under), with a focus on autographs and memorabilia cards.

This was quickly followed by a more cost-effective release, as Topps Chrome F1 debuted in April 2021.

High-dollar sales soon followed.

Five transactions of F1 cards exceeded the $100,000 threshold in 2022, a feat that had never been achieved previously. Each of the sales occurred from May to September 2022, beginning with a record $900,000 sale of the Lewis Hamilton 2020 Topps Chrome F1 Superfractor 1/1 PSA 7 on May 1.

That mark remains the all-time high for any F1 card.

Nothing has come close since that summer.

A review of the top 20 all-time F1 card sales reveals a sharp decline:

Number of sales over $100,000:

  • 2021: 0
  • 2022: 5
  • 2023: 1
  • 2024: 1

Number of sales over $50,000:

  • 2021: 1
  • 2022: 8
  • 2023: 4
  • 2024: 2

Number of all-time top-20 sales:

  • 2021: 3
  • 2022: 10
  • 2023: 5
  • 2024: 2

Number of all-time top-10 sales:

  • 2021: 0
  • 2022: 8
  • 2023: 1
  • 2024: 1

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the top sale in 2024 was $34,805.38. The article has been updated to reflect the January 2024 sale of a Max Verstappen 2020 Topps Chrome Sapphire Edition Refractor 1/1 PSA 9 for $195,200.

This downward trend is reflected across the market, as the CardLadder Racing Index, made up of a total of 665 cards meant to be representative of the market, shows a steady decline from 2022.

Over the past two years, the index shows a 67.85% drop and a 77.29% decline dating back to April 2021, when the index peaked.

Sales volume tells a similar story, with 2022 recording an average daily sales volume of $22,390, while 2024 has produced a fraction of that number thus far, clocking in at a meager $2,951.78 average daily sales volume.

That’s not to say the market is dead, however.

Lando Norris won his first Grand Prix in Miami over the weekend, leading to a boost in his index (more than 12% in the past week) as well as sales volume, with an average daily sales volume of $1,875.79 over the past week, compared to an average of $355.62 over the past three months.

While the market is clearly in free fall, pockets of collectors are still showing signs of life.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct.