He owns 10% of the team and is officially a non-executive chairman. What he offers the team are intangibles. He has ears and contacts up and down the paddock and in this capacity he acts as the team's ''special advisor''. He knows who to speak to and he is a wily negotiator. He represented Mercedes during the the Concorde agreement negotiations; he took the lead during negotiations with Hamilton when he moved from McLaren and he is likely the link between Mercedes and the rest of the teams. I wouldn't be surprised if he has the ear of the Mercedes board as well when it comes to decision-making.
He spends a lot of time with the drivers as well, advising them and acting as the link between them and the team.
As for the red hat, it is his trademark going back to the 70s. After he returned from his near-fatal accident in 1976 he started wearing a hat to hide his bandages and later to hide his scars. He wore a red hat specifically because he drove for Ferrari at the time. At that stage personal sponsorship wasn't such a big then, but eventually Parmalat approached him and offered him money to put their logo on it and it has since stuck.
Real 2018 McLaren to debut at Spanish GP - Boullier
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says that the team’s definitive 2018 Formula 1 car will make its debut Barcelona in May, and the clear hope is that it will help to address the team’s lack of qualifying pace.
Thus far, the team has run with what Boullier describes as evolution of last year’s Honda-powered car, and while it has proved strong in races, it has been lacking in speed over one lap and especially in straightline performance.
“The 2018 car is coming to Barcelona, and obviously we hope that’s the car we expect it to be,” he told Motorsport.com. “The car we have now, is as per plan, it’s not that we missed the [performance] targets with it.
“But we missed the*schedule*targets with it, which means the car we’ll have in Barcelona should have been in Australia.
"So we are running actually with an evolution of last year, and not the new car. And this car hopefully will be the one that we expect.”
Boullier admitted that having to contest the first four races with such an obvious restriction has been frustrating for the team.
“This is what it is. We knew this, and we just have to take the best we can.
"So far we have been opportunistic, and we took the opportunities we’ve had with both drivers to take as many points as we could.
“It’s just frustrating to see that we have such performance or pace in the race, and we are unable to unlock yet that performance in qualifying.”
Asked if he was excited by what the numbers suggested about the new package, Boullier said: “No expectations, no need.
"I’ve been long enough in F1 to know you just celebrate when you’re on the podium, or on top of the podium.”