Two senior motorsports officials have expressed concerns over four-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb's "scruffy" looks, French daily Le Figaro reported on Wednesday.
Surinder Thatthi, chairman of the Confederation of African Countries in Motorsports (CACMS), and Morrie Chandler, president of the World Rally Championship (WRC) commission, both criticised Loeb for his appearance, the newspaper wrote.
The pair, both members of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), made their points in an e-mail exchange in March.
In a reply to Thatthi, who first raised the issue, Chandler suggested the official WRC television feed (WRC-TV) should refrain from filming the Frenchman close-up.
"I watched the WRC Mexico highlights last night and I have to voice my opinion on the poor appearance of Sebastien Loeb on WRC-TV", Thatthi wrote in his mail to Chandler, a copy of which was made available to Reuters.
"He was unshaven, scruffy looking and with unkempt hair!!," Thatthi added. "It is wrong.....when the FIA gives him global TV coverage to millions of viewers and to many children worldwide he is a hero and role model (...)
"I know there is a level of personal freedom one is allowed but I feel he is taking this too far and someone should talk to him or his team about this," Thatthi added.
Chandler, in his reply, also seen by Reuters, agreed with Thatthi that the issue should be addressed.
"Yes I watched the same as you did (...) Unfortunately it is not a problem that is unique to our sport as the same happens in football and other "male" sports," Chandler wrote.
"Of course these persons are an insult to real males", he added. "My only solution is that we suggest to (rallying rights holders) ISC that the camera does not cover them close up."
Chandler copied his reply to ISC managing director Simon Long, who offered a different view.
"I do feel that it is precisely Sebastien's "ruggedly good-looking" appearance which has helped endear him to so many new and young fans both in France and around the world", Long wrote back to Chandler.
A spokesman for the FIA was not immediately available for comment.