Mercedes is openly keen on pitting team favorite Lewis Hamilton against rising German Nico Rosberg next year, and the contractual situations of both Rosberg and Kovalainen, who joined the team in 2008, would allow the move.
McLaren boss Whitmarsh believes Kovalainen, 27, has done a "good job" but "could have done a better job on occasions".
"I think within the team he is very comfortable, he's publicly stated he wants to stay in the team and that's something that we are talking to his management about," the Briton added.
07/09/09 (GMM) Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday admitted he is hoping to be retained by McLaren-Mercedes for the 2010 season.
The Finn joined the Woking based outfit last year as a replacement for Fernando Alonso, but his up and down performances have triggered speculation the team may be on the market for a new teammate for Lewis Hamilton.
Kovalainen, 27, gave some insight into his contractual situation when speaking with reporters at the Nurburgring.
"McLaren has an option that runs out at the end of this month. At the moment my only goal is to stay with them and we will see what happens," he said.
Kovalainen said he has had some input into the basic plans for the 2010 car, but it is understood that only Pedro de la Rosa at present is deeply involved with development of the disappointing MP4-24's successor.