McLaren hopes to be consistently near the front of the by the time the Spanish Grand Prix takes place in the second week of May.
McLaren duo Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button both finished on the podium in last week's season opener in Australia after Daniel Ricciardo was excluded, but second placed Magnussen finished about 25 seconds behind eventual winner Nico Rosberg.
Although the gap to Rosberg could have been bigger had a safety car not bunched up the pack shortly before the first round of pit stops, McLaren is confident that their planned development path would see them close that gap in time for the round in Barcelona.
"It's true that Mercedes and Williams have some pace, [they are] maybe half to three-quarters of a second quicker than the rest of the field," McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier told reports after the race in Melbourne.
"We focused a lot of our testing on building a solid and reliable car as we believed - and Australia confirmed our strategy - that reliability was the key to taking big points at the beginning of the season.
"Now we are pushing very aggressively on performance development - we need to close the gap to Mercedes and some others.
"Our target is to catch up by Barcelona and build up over the first few races in Europe."