After a fast start to the season, Aston Martin had fallen away since the summer break, which coincided with McLaren becoming the second-fastest team behind Red Bull, and scooping seven podiums in the six races since the Italian Grand Prix, with Oscar Piastri also winning the Qatar Sprint.
This strong harvest of points catapulted McLaren up the table, overtaking Aston, who had been hamstrung by Lance Stroll not scoring points as well as upgrades not delivering.
However, in the Sao Paulo GP, the AMR23 appeared to be back on form as Fernando Alonso took third and Stroll fifth for the team's second-best result of the season, following a three-four in Australia.
This 25-point haul was six more than McLaren managed through Lando Norris's second place and fastest lap, to reduce the gap to 19 points with just the Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix left, with Team Principal Stella keen to keep an eye on the fellow Mercedes customer.
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Stella "wary" over Aston Martin threat
"On our side, we do have to acknowledge that Aston seems to be back to the place they had to start the season," Stella told media including RacingNews365.
"For us, it is a consideration in the championship, and we need to be very wary that they can score strong points in the last few races."
Stella also touched upon just where the MCL60 package is still weaker than the class-leading Red Bull RB19, and also expressed surprise Mercedes was not in the mix during the recent Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
"At the moment, the difference is not in dirty air, but mainly in terms of lap time on used tyres," added Stella.
"Like we have seen, on the new tyres, we can fight for pole position, but as soon as the tyres degrade, it would appear like Max and Red BUll, they just have less degradation.
"If you can limit that, after 10 laps in a stint, it is tenths of a second, so that is where they are superior at the moment.
"This is where we think the difference is made and we can't do very much with this car.
"It has improved since the Singapore upgrade, in terms of tyre management, but it is not enough to compete, especially when the degradation is high like [in Sao Paulo], where we saw other cars degrading quite a lot, like Mercedes.
"That was a bit of a surprise, because when you have these high levels of degradation, it is also when Mercedes seems to do well, so we were surprised [why it was not competitive]."