The British team have been winless since 2012 and have been languishing in the midfield this season.
But with radically overhauled aerodynamic regulations set to come into force next year, Alonso thinks McLaren can finally return to the front.
"After struggling a lot last year we found ourselves in a position that we are enjoying and competing with the midfield cars," he is quoted by F1i.
"Next year we want to do the final step and fighting for much more than this. I think we have a great opportunity with the new rules, because everything will mix. If we are able to produce a quick car from race one we have a chance to do well."
He also thinks the progress made by Honda, whose engines struggled to complete a race weekend last year, will bode will for 2017.
"On the engine side I think we learn a lot this year, much more than last year because last year it was about making the power unit survive a weekend -- we had to make it last until the chequered flag," he said. "It was down on power, down on batteries, down on reliability, down on everything, so it was difficult to learn because it was just to make it run."
"This year I think we are fine-tuning the engine a lot more so I think the knowledge this year will pay off even more next year with the power unit."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing