The Woking-based team has made an unprecedented move in entering a car at Indianapolis for Alonso, who will skip the Monaco Grand Prix to take part in IndyCar's showpiece event.
With Alonso making no secret of the fact that he wants to become the first man since Graham Hill to win the triple crown of wins in Monaco, Indy and the Le Mans 24 Hours, the prospect of being able to do that alongside F1 is something McLaren knows it can offer over other outfits.
When asked if its plan was part of a bid to nail down Alonso to a 2018 contract, racing director Eric Boullier said: "Why not? Everybody has got his own tricks when you have to negotiate about a contract."
Boullier says that the decision to let Alonso race in Indy is justified because of the wider implications for the future, and the fact it has a high quality replacement in Jenson Button.
"It is a bigger picture than this," said Boullier, when asked about what not having Alonso in Monaco could cost the team.
"First I have got Jenson in the car, so I have another world champion who can extract the best out of this car.
"We have Stoffel [Vandoorne] who we believe has one of the greatest potentials and will be also there.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: McLaren hints at 'bigger picture' with Alonso