McLaren caused 2023's biggest upset by revamping its car to move from the midfield towards the front of the grid, taking nine podiums from July's Silverstone round onwards to finish fourth in the constructors' standings.

While it hasn't yet scaled the same heights as when it was the second-fastest team on the grid on certain occasions, McLaren has consolidated its place in the chasing group behind the dominant Red Bull team.

It currently lies third, emerging ahead of Mercedes in the pecking order, but has also seen Ferrari make huge race performance strides which leaves the Scuderia a step ahead for now.

Seeing a "strong trajectory" back in the Woking factory, team principal Stella hopes his squad can again come out on top in the "race of upgrades" as it aims to out-develop its peers.

When asked if the developments that are in the pipeline will be enough to catch Ferrari, Stella replied: "It becomes a race of upgrades and one step of upgrades won't be enough, because [Ferrari] will also upgrade.

"But last year we were able to outdevelop our competitors, in a season we brought more laptime than competitors. So for us, this remains the objective.

Andrea Stella at Bahrain pre-season test 2024

"As long as we see that what we plan to bring trackside actually materialises, then we are happy because we know that we are in our trajectory, which we think is a strong trajectory."

Stella indicated that keeping hold of third would be a "strong result" for McLaren, but that doesn't mean it won't try to catch Ferrari if there is any opportunity.

"I think looking at the facts, looking at the numbers, if we could retain third position in the championship, just establishing McLaren as the third best car, that will be a strong result for our team," he said.

"At the same time, there are some circuits in which we look like we can compete with Ferrari. So then we say: 'Why not?'

"But in fairness, in Formula 1, it's not about wishing to 'I would like [to be in such position]', you just push as hard as possible.

"You just try to develop your car as much as possible, maximise the race weekends as much as possible and then you try and see at the end where you are.

"After Miami, when we introduce some developments, we will have further information to see what we can compete for."