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I was watching the BBC broadcast of the Monaco Grand Prix over the weekend, and the announcer kept using the phrase "Vettel leads from Alonso". He took this to mean that Vettel was in first and Alonso was in second. Normally I'd phrase this as "Vettel leads Alonso".

Why would he use the phrasing "leads from"?

Note that at no time during the race did Vettel take the lead from Alonso, which is the only reason I can think this phrasing might be used.

Also note that this was a BBC broadcast with an English announcer (he's from Norfolk, if that makes any difference).

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I think "leads from" is to make it clear that A is directly in front of B.

Just A leads B could mean A is anywhere in front of B, eg. A leads the championship.

It's a common phrase in horse racing commentary. "A from B with C following". It gets the order clearly in a very short time (horse races are over quickly)

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I have never heard this usage, so I guess it's only common in racing commentary. I actually used to watch a lot of formula 1, perhaps 10 years ago, and I never heard it then. –  Marcin May 30 '11 at 21:19
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@Marcin - that was in the days of the great Murray Walker! He rarely knew who was leading who, but was a lot more entertaining not telling you –  mgb May 30 '11 at 22:05

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